California Appeals Court Rules That Unruly Kids Can Be Taken From Parents

The Second District Court of Appeals issued an unprecedented ruling on April 2. The Court ruled that, if children face a substantial risk of harming themselves, the state can remove an out-of-control child from the custody of a parent even if the mother or father is not to blame for the child’s behavior, according to the Associated Press. The Court ruled the following, in a unanimous three-to-zero ruling.

“When a child thereby faces a substantial risk of serious physical harm, a parent’s inability to supervise or protect a child is enough by itself to invoke the juvenile court’s dependency jurisdiction.”

Dan Mayfield, a San Jose attorney who specializes in juvenile law, indicated that the ruling goes counter to the normal belief that a court must find that parents did something wrong in order to remove a child. He stated the following, according to the Associated Press.

“It [the ruling] broadens the government’s power.”

The facts of the case in which the ruling was made are as follows, according to CBS Channel 9 Los Angeles. A Los Angeles County mother, called “Lisa E.” in court documents, had a teen daughter, identified only as “R.T.” in court documents, who repeatedly ran away from home. At the age of 15, R.T. had a child. The Appellate Court noted that Lisa E. had taken steps to control her daughter, such as searching for her when she ran away from home, having her live with her grandparents, and even contacting the police and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. But the Appellate Court stated that the girl remained incorrigible despite her mother’s best efforts. The court stated the following according to CBS Channel 9 Los Angeles.

“When a child thereby faces a substantial risk of serious physical harm, a parent’s inability to supervise or protect a child is enough by itself to invoke the juvenile court’s dependency jurisdiction….[The] mother in this case was neither neglectful nor blameworthy in being unable to supervise or protect her daughter.”

Associate Justice Brian Hoffstadt indicated that state law is clear that children can still be removed if they have suffered, or are at substantial risk of suffering, serious harm that a parent is unable to stop.

The Appellate Court’s ruling upheld a juvenile court’s decision to assert control over R.T. and allowed the county to place her elsewhere; the county placed R.T. back with her grandparents. Although her mother appealed the decision, R.T. turned 18 and was no longer a minor while the appeal was pending.

According to the Associated Press, Armand Montiel, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, stated the following.

“We do appreciate the clarification the court made that the welfare of the child is what’s paramount here. Our work is based on the fact that the child’s safety is job one.”

Some parents, in trying to control their children, may take extreme actions, such as public shaming through social media, for example, posting on Facebook what wrongdoing their children did. In a recent Inquisitr article, parents made their 13-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son stand outside holding humiliating signs announcing their crimes to the world after damaging property and lying. Some people believe in such methods because they feel they work, whereas others believe public shaming damages a child’s self-esteem and causes children to act out even more.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]