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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Conscientious Objection

 Not even six weeks at my new job, and I ran into a subject that might cause me a problem.
I currently work as a programmer for a company that produces software for hospitals.
While working on a small enhancement I came across a list that is programmed to pop up when children are brought in, at an Emergency Room. The pop-up is a checklist to determine whether the child might have been mistreated.
This checklist is going to be enhanced soon. And if I get the assignment ... I will refuse it. I will not have anything to do with a link between emergency rooms and child protection campaigns of the government.

Time to cut the crap: I live in the Netherlands. And there is a wild fire burning, called the Savanna Effect ...
Savanna was a little girl of whom it was known that she was terribly mistreated. Because of a misfunctioning guardian, the toddler was killed by her mother, a psychiatric patient.
Did the government respond by making sure that our 'Child Protection Professionals' would be better educated, that cases would be supervised and tracked in greater detail ?
 No, the governement decided that not the failing Child Protection Organisation needed attention. but all parents from then on had to be treated as possible killers of their children.

Here's how Child Protection works nowadays:

  • The smallest error can be called in as mistreatment, anonymously if you like. False notifications (sometimes intentional!) can be made without the reporter ever being held responsible.
  • CP employees do not know (or care about) the difference between 'information' (which can be  erroneous or even plain gossip) and fact.
  • CP does not indulge in fact checking and investigating.
  • The burden of proof lies with the accused. Parents have to prove they are not mistreating their child.     Do you know how hard it is to falsify some of the fantastic stories of CP employees?
  • (Family)Guardians are not knowledgable when it comes to the latest insights on diseases, syndroms, disorders etc.  Neither do they have up to date knowledge about alternative therapies. Not to mention cultural differences. They apply standard methods on every client, thereby too often violating article 26.3 of the human rights. (Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.)
  • Family Guardians consciously misrepresent themselves as having full custody over children (in other words as Guardians) while in most cases the parents still have -restricted-  authority and the family guardian has none. [The FG can only warn parents and threaten with a law suit. This is the difference between a 'Family Guardian' and a Guradian. The latter has full custody.]
  • Filing a complaint hardly has any effect**. Because of this, caretakers are so well protected that they can continue their malfunctioning. There's no negative feedback on them.

What does this mean inevery day life?

   The parent as potential killer is the viewpoint of CP. So in cases of doubt, parents are tracked and kept under pressure. Fear is purposely being used as a tool to control those parents. The stress that results from being dominated by such an unfair but enormous institution is traumatising. I personally call it "Caretaker Induced Trauma"

   If CP did keep track of science they would know the devastating effects of prolonged fear: the hormonal balance changes and bonding is reduced. Bonding between parent and child. Children need a loving, cheerful environment to flourish and develop into a healthy adult.  Not a fearful environment and stressed out parents.

    After Savanna the number of children placed in fosterhomes or institutions has risen with 30%. 
The number of parents with restricted authority has risen even more. A nice example from a typical city in the western part of the Netherlands: (no, not Amsterdam) :  It takes  7 months for a family guardian to become available^^. Until then the family is under supervision of a 'provisionary team'.
As a consequence the case load of (family) guardians has risen enormously too.They don't have time to deal with all their cases, let alone be educated. Good quality care is definitely not guaranteed under this system.
The Savanna Effect can be condensed as follows:
  • The children that really need help, are still not getting it. They may receive even less care.
  • Many families that don't need help, are stressed out and being made unhealthy.

 Back to the Emergency Room and the checklist that pops up.
Some believe that this is meant to trace obvious mistreatments. I don't think so. I know the government has started a new Savanna Strategy: every family that brings a child to Emergency is to be 'investigated'.

In my circle of friends it has already happened several times, to different families: Day 1: emergency room. Day 2: CP representatives are standing on your doorstep for an investigation.
The pop-up list fits this strategy perfectly.

This from ER-to-CP strategy increases the Savanna effect, since, even if it would not lead to more convictions, it does take up more time from CP.
  • Even more children that really need help, are still not getting it. They may receive even less care.
  • More families that don't need help, are stressed out and being made unhealthy.
 And now there's a third effect:
  • some parents will now hesitate to bring their child to an Emergency Room. [I would] and they will postpone it as much as possible. So more children will not get the care they need.
When I say that I object to working on this checklist, it is because I DO CARE for mistreated children and I want them to get all the help they need. And a doctor in his right mind, does not need this checklist. I hope.

** = I have filed a complaint once, going through the entire mill of talking with the employee, talking with her supervisor, with the management and finally getting a formal hearing. The committee said I was right, yet CP wrote me in her concluding letter that they felt the committee had made a mistake and I was still wrong in their eyes. The committee begged me to file a new complaint about this response - of course I send them a copy- , because they felt insulted themselves! 

^^ = Since the FG cannot do her work in those remaining 5 months, a second year of restricted authority is required.

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