Courts

San Diego County Officials Said They Could Take Children Away From Parents and Examine Their Genitals, a Court Disagrees

"The Mann children were subjected to invasive, potentially traumatizing procedures absent constitutionally required safeguards. "

|

Exam
Syda Productions / Dreamstime

San Diego County may not remove children from their homes and subject them to highly intrusive physical examinations without parental permission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled.

This ruling was eight years in the making. The case stems from an April 2010 incident involving Michael and Melissa Mann and their four young children. The Manns had apparently spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon as a form of punishment—a dreadful thing, to be sure—which attracted the attention of San Diego's Health & Human Services Agency. The county took the children away from their parents and placed them in a temporary shelter, the Polinsky Children's Center, while the parents went to court to regain custody.

At Polinsky, a doctor performed a 22-step medical exam requiring "blood samples and a gynecological and rectal exam," according to the Associated Press. The 9th Circuit's decision elaborated on what this entailed:

For the gynecological exam, Dr. Graff testified that she asked the girls to "kind of drop their legs into a frog leg situation," and "separate[d] the labia and look[ed] at the hymen . . . ." Staff also administered tuberculosis tests, requiring pricks of the children's skin, and the children gave blood and urine samples for drug screening. If staff observed signs of abuse, the County required them to photograph the abuse for the children's records. No one notified Mark and Melissa that their children were examined.

County officials did not obtain a court order authorizing these examinations, nor did the parents sign off. Indeed, the Manns didn't even know what had been done to their kids until one of them said something about it later.

The county's actions violated the Manns' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the court ruled:

The Manns were deprived of their right to raise their children without undue interference from the government, the right to make medical decisions for their children, and the right to privacy in their family life. The Mann children were subjected to invasive, potentially traumatizing procedures absent constitutionally required safeguards. Although we must balance these fundamental rights against the state's interest, we conclude that the County is constitutionally required to provide parental notice and obtain parental consent or judicial authorization for the protection of parents' and children's rights alike.

This case calls to mind the insane actions of police in Manassas, Virginia, who sought—and obtained—a warrant to give a 17-year-old boy an erection so they could photograph it as evidence in a teen sexting matter. To protect children from things like spanking and sexting, the authorities evidently believed it was necessary to subject them to sexual abuse.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

90 responses to “San Diego County Officials Said They Could Take Children Away From Parents and Examine Their Genitals, a Court Disagrees

  1. apparently spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon

    Is that even possible?

    *** clicks on link ***

    1. “The parents report they learned to use a wooden spoon in a parenting class offered at their church.”

      Ah.

      1. I can assure you that, as a primate with opposable thumbs, nobody has to “learn” to whack noisy aggravating nuisances with a stick, it’s completely instinctual. *Not* whacking noisy aggravating nuisances with a stick is unnatural behavior which must be learned.

        1. But it’s a *spoon*, J.

          Not an open hand, not a paddle, not even a belt.

          But, to be fair, maybe the church teaches a different some of spanking. Especially since the parents apparently reported “using” the spoon.

          1. My mom chased me around the house with a coat hanger when I was too big to “spank” but still needed a beating.

            I don’t remember what I did, but I trust that I deserved it.

            1. A coat hanger? After the thirty-third trimester that really makes a statement.

          2. Wooden spoon. Large, soft wood.

            1. Italian grandmothers have been spanking kids with wooden spoons since they were invented. Most are fairly flat on the back. And if you hit too hard the handle breaks. Nothing to see here.

          3. Wooden spoons are a thing! My grandma used to threaten this, or the fly swatter! I don’t recall if I ever got the spoon, but I definitely got the fly swatter a few times.

            Nothing wrong with mild corporal punishment. People who thing there is are freaks.

          4. Wooden spoons are a thing! My grandma used to threaten this, or the fly swatter! I don’t recall if I ever got the spoon, but I definitely got the fly swatter a few times.

            Nothing wrong with mild corporal punishment. People who thing there is are freaks.

      2. I think it’s a “wapping spoon.”

      3. I’ve been to classes like this at homeschool conferences. The whole point of using something long is so that you can smile while you beat your kid so they don’t hate you for it thinking the “spoon” or more commonly the “rod” is doing the punishing. That’s the surface of it. Anyone who teaches people to hit their children with items is sick and twisted. They still have constitutional rights though.

        1. Bullshit. “items” were used on me when I had it coming when I was a kid. There’s BEATING the shit out of kids, and there’s proportional punishment. Beating the shit out of kids is wrong, but not proportional punishment, which can sometimes deserve something mild like a moderately hard smack with a spoon or something similar.

    2. You don’t want to scrape up their nonstick surface.

      1. Forks leave bad marks.

    3. My mom smacked my ass with a wooden spoon all the time, it hurt a hell of a lot less than an open palm. It had less mass and area. If you had jeans on you honestly never felt a thing, I would raise a fuss just so she wouldn’t catch on and go back to the hand.

      It was always deserved. I got it for stealing keys and driving my dads car round the backyard, shooting fireworks at my brother, firing my BB gun into the basement ceiling tiles to create constellations, etc.

      “a dreadful thing, to be sure”
      Fucking idiot millennials.

      1. I’m sure you were a righteous headache at the time, but I’m pretty certain you gave them some awesome memories.

    4. Yes, it is possible to be beaten with a wooden spoon. My mother used to beat me when she was angry. It had nothing to do with my or my sister’s wrongdoing. (My sister was beaten too, worse than I was.) And it was very painful.

  2. a dreadful thing, to be sure?

    1. A hell of a lot less traumatizing than “blood samples and a gynecological and rectal exam”. To be sure.

    2. Robby, sometimes you are insufferable with this bullshit. Dreadful is having cancer, a death in a family, or maybe living in a country where electricity and running water isn’t a given. I’d hate to be so soft headed to think getting hit with fucking spoon is dreadful.

    3. I really, really want to believe that Robby made this statement as some kind of sarcastic, self-deprecating joke.

      But, I can’t.

  3. Getting spanked with a wood spoon is most likely something that kids in the last 40 years could do with more of.

    1. Yes. Because physical assault is how we learn essential values, like “might makes right,” and “do as you’re told.”

      Good stuff.

      1. Because physical discomfort is how organisms learn to avoid bad situations. It’s literally the only reason nausea and pain exist as evolutionary adaptations.

        It’s also infinitely preferable to the mindfuckery and manipulation moderns use to damage their kids with instead.

        1. Have to agree with tour last sentence.

        2. Have to agree with your last sentence.

        3. And drugs! Don’t forget the drugs used to teach the modern versions of those lessons in our new, more enlightened world. We must all celebrate lessons like “don’t hinder the state-run processing of compliant citizens” and “don’t exhibit toxic pre-masculinity”. Enforced through application of drugs.

          Very enlightened, Les. To be sure.

      2. Where did you learn to be such a pussy, Les?

        1. Bad parenting. Poor fucker was obviously never whacked with a wooden spoon when he needed it.

      3. I hope you never reproduced

  4. Since when should children have constitutional protections?
    That’s as absurd as having adults having constitutional protections.

  5. Since when should children have constitutional protections?
    That’s as absurd as having adults having constitutional protections.

  6. Was Larry Nassar a consultant on this scheme?

  7. Poor little snowflakes.

    They should be lucky they never met my 4’11” Italian grandmother. She swung a mean spoon when we misbehaved and it HURT!!!

    Guess what? No one grew up damaged because of it. No one was traumatized. No “claims” of PTSD.

    Our world is now filled with pussies. If more parents spanked their children and taught them about responsibility and consequences, we might have less fucktard millennials running around who think the world revolves around them.

    1. I’ve seen more than one study that says it’s not about whether or not you use corporal punishment – it’s about whether or not you are consistent about rules and the application of punishment.

      There are plenty of kids whose parents never so much as raised their voice against them who are fucked up beyond belief by constant mixed messages and inconsistencies so that the kid can’t develop a moral compass or any confidence that what they’re doing isn’t terrible. I also know a number of people who are fine, solid people who were spanked as children but who will be the first to tell you “only when I deserved it.”

      1. Yeah, consistency is key. My mom tried to raise me to be the daughter she never had but chicken out when the broken bones started “accidentally” happening.

        1. Your mom abusing you does not mean that spanking cannot be an effective punishment, or that punishment in general is a bad thing.

      2. THIS. Being consistent and fair is the most important thing. I didn’t need many spankings of any sort, but I had them coming when they did. I’m not a damaged wreck.

    2. Sorry to say this, but the generation that gave us fascism in Italy is not the best source for child raising directions.

      1. They’re surely better than the generation that gave us millennials! I say this AS an older millennial mind you.

        The modern world has got sooooo far off track on so many things it is incomprehensible. We’re trying to destroy everything old, simply because it is old. As if doing the exact opposite of what was proven to work well, in many cases for thousands (hell maybe hundreds of thousands) of years will automatically be better! Gimme a break.

  8. Anybody who thinks being spanked with a spoon isn’t necessarily and always abusive is probably too afraid to say so in public these days. Meanwhile, belts, “switches”, etc. were probably worse than a big wooden spoon–and being spanked with belts and switches was common as recently as when the baby boomers were children.

    I was paddled in school. I wouldn’t spank my kids, but I’m not sure you could get 12 babyboomer jurors to unanimously agree that spanking your kids that way is necessarily child abuse–regardless of whether I think it’s abusive.

    “County officials did not obtain a court order authorizing these examinations”

    That’s the problem right there.

    If the county can’t get a warrant based on having spanked one of their children with a big wooden spoon, then they must have thought their case was pretty weak. If they’re so incompetent they just didn’t bother, then I hope the county learns from this. For goodness’ sake, if the kids were already in foster care, there was plenty of time to get a warrant.

    1. Anybody who thinks being spanked with a spoon isn’t necessarily and always abusive is probably too afraid to say so in public these days.

      I’ll say it. Of course I’ll also say all drugs should be legal, the age of consent is too high, cockfighting should be decriminalized and Leo Frank murdered Little Mary Phagan.

    2. Anybody who thinks being spanked with a spoon isn’t necessarily and always abusive is probably too afraid to say so in public these days.

      I’ll say it. Of course I’ll also say all drugs should be legal, the age of consent is too high, cockfighting should be decriminalized and Leo Frank murdered Little Mary Phagan.

  9. …we conclude that the County is constitutionally required to provide parental notice and obtain parental consent or judicial authorization for the protection of parents’ and children’s rights alike.

    Seems like the medical professionals would be on the hook for this, as well.

    1. They were just following orders….

  10. This case calls to mind the insane actions of police in Manassas, Virginia, who sought?and obtained?a warrant to give a 17-year-old boy an erection so they could photograph it as evidence in a teen sexting matter.

    The armed state agent behind that scheme ended up being an accused child molester shortly after and committed suicide. A judge and fellow law enforcement actually tried under color of law to abet him in his pederasty.

    1. As a former 17 year old boy, I can attest that there is no need to induce erections in that population. Just wait 10 minutes for the next random boner to pop up.

      1. Steve.O “As a former 17 year old boy, I can attest that there is no need to induce erections in that population.”

        It’s harder to do in front of a camera with a gaggle of cops and prosecutors watching. Unless that’s your kink, of course.

      2. That’s harder to do in front of a camera, with a gaggle of cops and prosecutors watching (with or without popcorn).

        1. What’s wrong with the ‘reply’ function today?

  11. “The Manns were deprived of their right to raise their children without undue interference from the government,”

    Really? The NINTH CIRCUIT actually put that in a decision?

    Next I will read Nancy Pelosi has joined the N.R.A.

    1. What court made this decision was THE ONLY thing that surprised me about this. Broken clock is still right twice a day and all that though I guess!

  12. Fucking California again.

    1. Hey! Manassas Virginia is no California. It’s kind of a reddish purple. I know. I lived there.

      1. I live not too far from there-Manassas is a weird place. Other than the Civil War battles, its greatest claim to fame is probably John Bobbitt – the guy who had his dick cut off by his wife in the early 1990s. So I can see how cops there might be interested in watching a 17 year old get a boner. Oh, and politically, they recently elected the first trans state rep ( a Democrat).

        1. What a sad, sorry slide down hill poor Manassas has had… From kickin’ Yankee ass there, to electing mentally deranged trans leftists… If those good ol’ boys had known just how fucked the Union was going to become, they probably would have kept fighting a guerilla campaign until that fuck Lincoln gave up.

          Keep in mind I’m a native of the west coast, with only one of my 4 grand parents coming from the south, and he more or less grew up in California himself. But I am a big fan of states right and secession. Lincoln didn’t give a shit about the slaves, just the Union… So putting him on any moral high ground is bunk IMO.

  13. Don’t punish your kids, the government hates competition

  14. . . . spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon . . . ?a dreadful thing, to be sure . . .

    Have you ever been spanked Soave? Its really not the spanking that’s traumatic. Its embarrassing, dominating, frustrating – but its not mentally traumatic not physically dangerous unless the spanker is both strong and trying really hard to fuck you up.

    And you’ve seen wooden spoons, right? Big, lots of surface area to dissipate the force of the strike? Similar to a hand?

    . . . to be sure . . .

    Heh, to be sure, though.

  15. “What do you think of clubs for small children?” W.c. Fields: Only when kindness fails.

    1. I thought your comment was about the kindergarten fight club that the teachers were running.

      1. I thought we agreed not to talking about that.

    2. I thought your reply was about the kindergarten fight clubs.

      1. Yea, reply button is on the fritz this evening.

  16. If your church is instructing you to beat your children, you picked the wrong flavor of downscale, dumbass superstition.

    Choose reason. Every time.

    Especially over sacred ignorance or dogmatic intolerance.

    Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then, childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for backwardness, intolerance, ignorance, and gullibility. By ostensible adulthood it is no excuse, not even in Alabama or West Virginia.

    Choose reason. Every time. Be an adult.

    Or, at least, try.

    1. Yes, choose reason and go assault someone because they disagree with your opinion Antifa.

      Yes, choose reason and go assault someone because you don’t like their Halloween costume college students.

      Yes, choose reason and play the knock out game hyphenated Americans.

      1. I assumed the Reverend meant, choose a rolled up issue of Reason magazine and what then on the nose. Bad dog, bad!

        Parenting can be so confusing.

        1. Groan, whap them on the nose.

  17. Go choke on a dick.

  18. A spoon? That’s it?
    That was a herding instrument when I was a kid. By old-country babysitters that weren’t even my own family members. Shit, we look back FONDLY at those memories.
    Christ, what a country of fucking pussies.

  19. Go get me a switch, San Diego County! It better be a good one too cuz you sure as hell don’t want me to have to get it myself!

    1. LOLOLOL! Yes! The challenge of picking the switch yourself, which worked wonderfully to focus the mind on the punishment ahead. You want to go small and soft, but you know it still has to pass muster.

      Good times.

  20. Did any of the parents described as smacking their children around have a college diploma, let alone an advanced degree?

    Anyone who figures the authorities shouldn’t investigate bruises on a child, or act to protect that child if a parent acknowledges bruising the child as punishment, doesn’t deserve to have any opinion treated with respect.

    1. Fuck off. There’s BEATING your children, which should not be acceptable. And there’s spanking. They are not the same thing, and anybody who isn’t a retard can tell the difference. I guess that’s why you can’t tell the difference…

  21. At this rate, dont ever tell the state you have kids, dont get them SSNs, home school them, and make sure your kids have friends outside you county.

    1. Yeah why bother with them

      You get handprint art from the grandkids on your birthday

      And your whole world lights up

  22. It sounds like the main issue the 9th found fault with was the failure to seek parental consent to probe the girl’s private parts. Is that standard protocol for every suspected abuse case in California? I thought they didn’t like vaginas being messed with there.

    1. All of her is private.

      If she is not a threat nobody can violate her

    2. The fact that the state confuses molestation with mild punishment is ridiculous… Obviously if there are reports with some sort of credence that some child is being molested… Well, you’re going to have to do some stuff like this. But if there IS NOT, there is no way that somebody spanking their children should mean you automatically go and molest their kids FOR THEM to make sure they’re not being molested. What freaks.

  23. Yes, Virginia, government is evil.

  24. It’s nice guvmint upheld parental rights AFTER they were violated. Young folks need to woke to the fact that you have NO parental rights in our current system. http://nymensactionnetwork.org/prra/

  25. A wooden spoon? Dreadful? We used to get the kindling.

  26. A wooden spoon? Dreadful? We used to get the kindling.

  27. Adult “Protective” Services in other states do similar things too. I know of a social worker in my county who took someone’s husband away, based solely on accusations he made against his family, without verifying them. He had dementia, with accompanying paranoia. The allegations were determined to be unfounded. There was never a court order. Hospitals, care homes, shelters all acted in concert with APS, without asking for a court order, because everyone seems to believe that APS and CPS act in the stead of G*d.

  28. “a dreadful thing, to be sure ”

    I’m not sure of any such thing. A ‘spanking’ with a wooden spoon would be difficult to make particularly painful or damaging. Not something I would do, but not ‘dreadful.’ Save the pearl-clutching for when it really counts.

  29. “spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon as a form of punishment?a dreadful thing, to be sure”

    Jesus. What a sissy you must be! There’s nothing wrong with mild punishment, fairly applied. I don’t recall if I ever got the spoon from grandma, but it was surely threatened. I think I might have once… But the fact that I can’t even remember for sure, surely shows it wasn’t a big deal. I got the open hand and fly swatter (which hurt pretty good) on a number of occasions.

    My best guess at some of the studies that have SUPPOSEDLY shown corporal punishment “messes kids up” is this: Smart/well behaved kids don’t need to be spanked often, if at all. Dumb, screwed up, possibly already emotionally damaged kids act out… And will not respond to verbal reprimands. I have seen this 1,000 times in my life, and I’m not even around kids much. So it’s a chicken and the egg thing. Screwed up kids need more spankings, and not screwed up kids don’t.

    That’s all IF those studies aren’t bunk for other reasons to begin with. I’ve never met a single normal person who was traumatized by being spanked. Now severe beatings for no reason… That’s a different thing entirely. But people who can’t tell the difference are fools.

  30. The “research” that talks about all the “harm” that spanking does may not be reliable. Science isn’t science when scientists cheat. I’ve seen more than one assessment of psychological research studies that demonstrate they are corrupt and unreliable. Read Virology Blog. The mighty Cochrane just had to retract one of their famous Cochrane Studies on CBT (counselling) and GET (exercise) as treatments because of all the flaws that experts found when anyone bothered to really look at it. Psychologists get a pass because no one takes it seriously. They aren’t double-blinded. They aren’t placebo controlled. They convert investigations into trials when they aren’t supposed to. They change the criteria after the trial started. They have criteria for “recovered” that matches criteria for “entry into the trial” (meaning you were “recovered” before you ever started the trial or received any treatment). They use subjective measures for recovery instead of objective measures such as asking how happy you are instead of measuring how many hours you spent at work or school. Guess what – when psychologists spend the whole trial teaching you to say you are happier or better in counselling, you will say your happier or better, but that does not make you happier or better. Psychologists are quacks!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.