Government Fails at Parenting

By Rob Morse | SlowFacts

Intact families matter

88 percent of the children who are found in sex-trafficking rings came out of the foster care system. That has many implications but none of them are good. We know these children were sold for sex and we know that is bad. I was a foster parent to eight children. I’ve seen how the government treats the children under its care. We’ve been told that it takes a socialist village to raise a child. From my own experience and from the statistics on sex trafficking, you don’t want your children, or your neighbor’s children, to be raised by the government. I don’t think more government can fix this problem.

Seven out of eight children is a frightening fraction of trafficked kids. That one statistic doesn’t tell us where or how the system failed.. We need to know more to have the shocking situation in proper perspective. Hold onto your heart, because only 0.6 percent of US children are in the foster care system at any one time. The shocking statistic is this-

Children in foster care are about 150 times more likely to be
sexually trafficked than children outside the child welfare system.

If you thought your flawed and ordinary family didn’t matter, then please reconsider. Intact families are essential to the welfare of their children.

This is what happens when families fail and kids enter the foster care system.

  • The children might run away from their foster parents.
  • They might be delivered to traffickers/drug dealers who knew the parents.
  • The children might age out of the foster care system and have no place to live.

If these are the root problems, then there might be a solution to reduce child sex trafficking. If these are the problems then maybe we could improve the child welfare system and keep the kids away from pimps. I’m afraid that the problem goes deeper than a badly managed government program.

The problem I saw among my foster children was that they didn’t know what it was like to have a responsible mom and dad. My foster kids didn’t know how adults and children should behave towards each other. My foster children didn’t see responsible adults love each other in committed life-long married love.. until they came to our home. They were hungry for love.

If you doubt that a good family matters to children,
then look at what happens when kids don’t have one.
88 percent of trafficked children had been in the foster care system!

I think that foster care arrives too late for some of these kids. The unfixable problem is that being trafficked fulfills a need for some of these children. Their pimp treats them well.. at least for a while. What does it say about their life that being sold for sex is an improvement for these kids?

To me, it says that the social welfare system intervened too late and the children were trying to make up for a childhood they never had. It says that the foster care system we’re using today isn’t working. I hate that conclusion, but I can’t avoid it.

I know that government is a blunt instrument. I know that there are abusive situations when Child Protective Services needs to gets involved.. and that CPS abuses some good families. I get that. I want these kids in good homes as much as anyone. Believe me that I’m familiar with problems in the foster care system and CPS.

Unfortunately, I saw screwed up parents hang onto their kids when everyone but the judge knew that the parents were a disaster today and would be a disaster tomorrow. Some of the birth parents did turn their lives around, but it is easier for the judicial system to treat the failed parents as if they had a realistic chance of recovery. It is hard to separate parental rights.. and it should be. If you think addiction is a victimless crime then go look again at the foster care system.

I understand the problem. I also understand what happens when we don’t make those tough decisions. Failure to make those tough calls about failed parents means we condemn children to the sex market. That is horrible and I don’t’ have any easy answers. The only idea I have is to avoid the problem when we can.

Lots of the good moms and dads I know don’t give themself enough credit. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do. There is no realistic substitute for a mom and a dad living together in a loving home. You do an amazing job even if it doesn’t feel like it. You can’t be replaced.. no matter how much money the government spends.


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