This question is sure to raise eyebrows and start arguments but let’s take a minute to look at the FACTS. With child support arrears in America at an astounding 116, 360,701.209.00 BILLION dollars nationally according the Office of Child Support Enforcement, this is something that requires a closer look.
WebMD.com summarizes it as: “child abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child needs.” The article goes on to further break down abuse into categories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Then goes on to add that “Neglect happens when a child does not get shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care or protection that he or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more common.”
Federal law as defined by CAPTA 2010, defines child abuse as: “Any recent act or FAILURE to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or FAILURE to act that which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Legal Dictionary defines child abuse as: “Physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child”
The vision of the Administration of Children and Family’s is; “Children, youth, families, individuals and communities who are resilient, safe, healthy and economically secure” The ACF oversees the Office of Child Support Enforcement so is this vision being met?
We have over $116 Billion dollars on the books in unpaid child support on 11,020,324 cases across our great nation. Over the past 25 years the arrears owed has increased by almost 90 Billion dollars. So something is wrong, something is not working and we need to fix it.
In a previous article, http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/ ,I told the story of a mother, D. whose son played on an elite soccer team. As any parent knows, extracurricular activities don’t come cheap and D. placed the costs of her boy playing soccer on credit cards for over three years while trying to collect the court ordered child support from her ex husband. He did not pay and D. was unable to keep up and her son had to give up the team he had played on for 8 years. The boy became very depressed, starting getting in trouble at school and smoking…
“neglect means NOT GIVING OR DOING SOMETHING A CHILD NEEDS.”
Does a child ‘need’ to play soccer? You can debate that all day long, but this boy who now didn’t have a dad at home still had a positive male role model in his coach. This boy had friends who were all into the same thing– a sport that requires discipline, team work, responsibility, good healthy habits to play at an elite level– all very good things, we can agree. Not to mention the possibility of higher education as scholarships are involved with sports at this level….
“Failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”
Unpaid child support was the DIRECT cause of this boy not being able to play soccer. Not being able to play soccer was the DIRECT cause of this child’s depression, acting out smoking.
In this same article I also told how in 2010 my own daughter needed surgery for an angioma on her face. She had been picked on mercilessly at school over this and the surgeon wanted to take it off on the first day of Christmas break so any bruising would be faded by the time school started back. I notified my soon to be ex husband and his attorney of the surgery and date. When I went by the outpatient center a few days prior to the surgery to fill out her paperwork I found out that he had canceled the insurance on the kids.
The next example from that article was from a mother in Utah. Her ex was made aware that one of their son’s was going to travel to California to perform at a special event with the school orchestra. He quit paying his child support and there was no way to pay for the trip.
Before you make a call on that one, think: Do you want to be the kid who could not afford to go? Do you think this boy was made fun of at school for suddenly not being able to go? Do you want it to be YOUR child who was the only child unable to participate?
Please re-read the definitions above of abuse vs neglect. What is your opinion on this? I would like to know in the comments.
The Federal Office of Child Support is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the ACF, HHS has a very interesting article still available on their website that was published in 1989: A Partial Listing of Problems Facing American Children, Youth and Families.
This article gives those problems as:
- Child Health
- Adolescents in Trouble (drug use, teen pregnancy, runaways)
- Child welfare
- Lack of child care
- Lack of early childhood education
- Lack of Child Support and
- This article goes on to cite a study done in 1986 by Bumpas that states: “Studies done show that 1 out of 2 female head families live below the poverty line and a significant factor in this impoverishment is failure to provide child support.”
- Things have not changed that much since this study. In a 2012 study in the state of Texas the stats were 48% of single mothers and 17% of single fathers were living below the poverty line due to unpaid child support. And if you read the entire article the expenditures made on behalf of the Federal government to “attempt” to collect child support are astounding. I simply do not believe that in the United States of America we can not do a better job of enforcing court orders.
The ACES study available on CDC.gov shows the direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and low life potential, risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions and early death….. Childhood poverty or even financial strain is no laughing matter. A survey done by Moms Fight Back in Colorado listed in 2016 “financial strain” as top issue keeping Moms “up at night”.
There is a church in my area that yearly does a back to school program to provide needed items for a successful start to the school year: new backpack, school supplies, new sneakers and a haircut. Every year the number of parents applying for this blessing increases, and the parents bringing kids to this event are not in pairs.
As a single mother, I can promise you that the only thing more stressful than August’s back to school, is December and holiday expenses. Paper and plastic only stretch so far…
So we have the facts– the latest Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support in 2016 shows an arrearage of 116,360.701,209.00 Billion dollars on 11,020,324 cases owed unpaid child support. Millions of children doing without needs and wants, experiencing lack and often worse. This is scientifically proven to lead to deleterious outcomes in life.
What is YOUR take? Abuse? Not abuse? Neglect or not? Please comment.
What are we going to do about it? Make no mistake, whether you are a struggling single parent, a parent paying support, a grandparent chipping in for “extra’s” or a TAXPAYER with no children: this is everyone’s problem.
2018 is an election year for our Congress. I urge you to find your Representative and call for appointments, bring your arrears statements along with your concerns. Ask your congress man or woman if they even READ the Report and looked at the tables showing these disgraceful figures? Let them know you are watching, expecting action, and you VOTE. I for one, am tired of empty words out of Washington. I plan to vote for the candidates who will fight for our children.
All arrears statements shown were previously posted online and used with permission of the custodial parent.