Civil Liberties

Mom Tells Therapist About Briefly Leaving Kids Alone, Shrink Calls Cops

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Kyle Flood / Wikimedia Commons

A mom's 20 minute absence from home became an obsession of a Child Protective Services officer. As is often the case, the issue was not whether anything bad happened to kids while mom was out. The sole criteria for CPS hounding this woman for two solid years seems to be that something bad could have happened.

Of course, if the mom had taken the kids with her, something bad could have happened to them on the car ride, too. The number one way children die in the U.S. is as car passengers, not as kids at home getting ready for the day.

But real odds don't matter when it comes to the state deciding who is a dangerous mom. All that matters is the new notion that all decent mothers are literally at their children's side 24/7. If you trust your kids to be okay for a few minutes unsupervised and government busybodies find out… Well, take a look. Rebecca Ruiz reports on the case of Lilia Gonzalez for Mashable:

The ordeal began on a June morning when Gonzalez, then 36, awoke at 7:30 a.m., startled and groggy. Her 16-month-old son had been sick, and Gonzalez slept fitfully; her husband left earlier to start the first of his two jobs. Like most parents, Gonzalez's mind immediately settled on the day's many tasks, including taking the children to walk her four-year-old son to the bus stop. And that's when the panic surged—she had overslept and the bus had already departed.

As her eight-year-old daughter dressed for school, Gonzalez and her son rushed down the stairs from their third-floor apartment in Schaumburg, Illinois, and looked for the bus. Seeing an empty street, Gonzalez quickly decided to drive the two miles to school.

When she returned home after a 20-minute absence, Gonzalez found her toddler son watching television in bed and her daughter ready to attend school. She regretted impulsively leaving them alone, but felt grateful nothing tragic had happened.

The next day, Gonzalez mentioned the incident to her therapist, a clinic student who helped treat her for depression. "I did something probably stupid," Gonzalez recalls saying. Her therapist remained silent then, but a few hours later, Gonzalez's phone rang.

"I talked to my supervisor," her therapist said, "and I explained to her what you just told me, and we have to call [Department of Children and Family Services]." Gonzalez hadn't heard of the child welfare agency, but was terrified. "She started telling me that they were probably going to come and interview and probably they would take the children away."

Gee, wouldn't you love a therapist like that? You're trying to deal with depression and next thing you know, your shrink hands you over to the folks who take children away from their parents. How very therapeutic!

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The laws in 48 states make therapists and other professionals—doctors, social workers, etc.—mandated reporters. If a professional has reason to suspect a child is in real danger from a truly abusive parent, it is his/her job to report the case to the authorities.

Since when is it the professional's job to snitch on a mom who confesses to one imperfect parenting moment? Only when imperfect parenting becomes illegal. Sadly, that's the moment we are in now.