Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Who Killed Cock Robin"

These are the responses to my January 23 article, "Sierra, Dahquay, Joziah, Nixzmary; Four Children Die In Four Months While Under The Care Of City ACS." Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback.

26 comments:

  1. Poinsettia12:07 PM

    Very interesting, you are always on the money

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  2. you proved that this mattingly fellow is no good.
    he may be world renowned as an expert but when the wind started to blow his curtains he went right into political defense mode and got 40 people to say he is smart and good. HE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH>> fire the bum immediately and get someone in there who is not such an ass kissing sycophant.

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  3. I assume that PARENTS are responsible--- irresponsible mothers, cruel step fathers, etc.

    Yes, as a civilized society, we need to look after the weak and protect children--- but the wicked stepfather killed the girl, not the city of New York.

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  4. Northside12:18 PM

    Are ACS case workers doing their job? I am reminded of something Victor Gotbaum said at a labor-management negotiation. We said that we were not getting a full days work from park workers (mostly laborers). Gotbaum got up, leaned across the table and said, " If the workers are not working that's because the managers are not managing."

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  5. A thought: Transparent information might help, i.e. police
    > reports, school reports and doctor reports available to each other and to
    > the SOCIAL WORKER who must acknowledge reading of them and indicate to
    them
    > in writing what the Social worker determines to do. Wouldn't a concise
    > written record like the new parking tickets help everybody? It is a
    > situation where technology could help. I understand the issue of privacy,
    > but the dissemination here would be limited to those who have a need to
    know
    > and clarity would help expose the evil doers.

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  6. As you mentioned earlier, the four children killed were with their
    biological mothers per the concern with keeping the family together. This
    notion is apparently a major factor for the current ACS Commissioner. Is
    this a policy that should be reevaluated?

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  7. I applaud your effort to keep the "child abuse crisis" alive in your subscribers'
    consciousness.

    As you have repeatedly said in the past, so many stories quickly die. As you also
    have said newspapers and reporters are interested in "SCOOPS."

    Getting and keeping the Mayor's attention may help since he can push buttons
    which you and I cannot.

    You are correct that "some tragedies are inevitable in a system this large," but the
    MEDIA, THE MAYOR, and THE PUBLIC might get some changes if you keep
    after them.

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  8. I like your idea of an 800 number but perhaps a better plan would
    suggest calling 911 and referring the concern to a EMS dispatcher who
    would release a specially trained EMT team. Many cities have PMTs,
    "psychological MTs" who deal with the homeless and abuse concerns.

    It is my memory that just before I retired from the FDNY, EMS was required to add a domestic abuse training session to its CFR-D course that they provide to us, us being firefighters. Furthermore, the EMTS that I saw were street smart and knew their stuff and some of them would be the
    best fit to go into a home and examine a child.

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  9. I applaud and am motivated also by the clarity of your report. I agree, as
    you said, that we as a community are responsible to some measure for the
    welfare of our neighbor. I thank you for writing about this important topic
    and help bring to our conscience and hearts the need to care better for our
    children.

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  10. Thank you for pointing fingers at those responsible and not placing the blame on the backs of the underpaid, understaffed field workers. Remember: "The fish stinks from the head."

    I still hold that the best way to turn these incompetent, well-paid idiots into hard workers is to get the DA's office to bring some of them to court on charges of negligent homicide. Get a lot of press, name the defendants and make sure there are visuals of their reaction to being charged. Then find a sympathetic judge who will drop the charges because the offenders can't be charged with a crime while performing their jobs or a similar ruling.

    Take the charges and results to the State Legislature and seek changes in the law when an infant's well being is at stake. The state does it fast enough for sex offenders (I'm quite certain that sex is somehow involved when any parent kills or doesn't prevent a killing of his or her child. Just read Medea.)

    Always willing to help.

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  11. e.b.r.1:15 PM

    A highly publicized easy to remember toll-free phone line to report abuse, with multi-lingual human beings responding to incoming calls, while not the end-all-and-be-all of resolving the issue of neglectful child abuse bureaucracies is a potential stop-gap solution so eloquent in its simplicity that all the turf-protecting brainiacs in the bureaucracy probably never considered to date.

    Love the line about 1-800-DIVORCE if 1-800-FLOWERS "doesn't work." Every time I send flowers to Joyce's job at P244 at P266 in Bellerose, I always hear from here colleagues: "Either you've been very bad Woody, or Joyce has been very good."

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  12. So – you’re a poet too. Good, thorough summary of the situation, with appropriate moral outrage!

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  13. I blame the parents, and senior citizens. The former are guilty of personal child abuse, the latter of fiscal child abuse. Each place about the same value on the children killed (and other children) relative to their own needs. Nixzmary's parents simply took it to a further extreme.

    None of the reforms you propose are likely to occur. Rather, the press of debt service and senior benefits is likely to become so great that rationalized funding cuts such as "family unification" will become greater and greater. In the end, there will be no public outrage at a public agency when a child is beaten to death, just as there is no public outrage at the police when on black teen shoots another black teen in East New York. There will simply be no expectation that the community will do anything to help children who are victimized by their own family members. Perhaps there will be no ACS or foster care at all, except for children left on a doorstep as infants unharmed.

    May I point out that, although the absolute dollars were great (because NYC has $8 million people) on a per child basis NYC's schools had been a bargain for 30 years? The fact that (as policy) only 1/3 of the children were educated (in gifted and other separate programs) bothered many not at all.

    "Oh well."

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  14. good poem Henry (the part you wrote)! always a good job in general.

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  15. If the true figures were known, then child abuse, molestation, and murder of a child would be the top crimes in the United States. While only four horrific deaths have come to light, the actual figures are mind boggling. With the contributory factors of poverty, drug abuse, neglect, crime, and mental illness figured in the truth cannot be told. For should it be told then all of our efforts would go to the cessation of these acts. The deaths of children and young adults, and the incapacitated far exceed what the public wants to hear. The numbers should be closer to two or three a day, in our vast metropolitan area.

    StarQuest, we have no solutions, its a problem that can only be moderately abated. When and if a cure for the underlying conditions is found, then it would only be reduced to two or three a month, far more that we want to admit to. Yet overall how many people die as a causative effect of the acts of others, either due to criminal intent, or just plain lack of care. I don't have the answers, nor dose anyone else.

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  16. Thanks for your report.

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  17. Anonymous1:26 PM

    The Cock Robin part is very clever.

    I have come to the belief that all failures of the City's various agencies go back to the top. Who decided not to distribute life-saving escape ropes to firefighters? Why don't police officers have other ways to deal with threatening people that to just shoot them? It's the mayor and commissioners.

    You should know this -- it comes from the mayor, goes to the commissioner who passes it on to the various deputy and assistant commissioners. None of these illustrious people ever pays sufficient attention to the advice of the people who actually do the work and have been doing the work long before any of these people were appointed to their positions. Additionally, the governing ethic of these managers seems to be don't ever let any mistakes be seen by City Hall, don't work with any other division in your own agency, and certainly not with any other agency.

    Government doesn't go the whole way. In the case of the ACS, they need many more social workers. No social worker should ever have to go to a hostile home alone -- there should be two. Further, if the parents or caretakers refuse admittance, there should be people within the agency who have police powers to enforce admittance. (It's very difficult to get the NYPD to cooperate with an agency's needs.)

    I don't like to blame the workers who were supposed to look after the endangered children. They are paid next to nothing, disrespected, beaten down and become numb to what happens -- and may be terrified of confronting abusive parents all alone. Of course there are slackers who don't do their jobs -- but that is not the norm.

    This is the result of my experience as both management and a shunned (by other management) appointee who worked with and understood the permanent civil service people who were there before and will be there after.

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  18. Bravo. I'm glad it came from a liberal like you rather than a conservative like me. I've been thinking all along that flogging for the violent murder of a child is the only penalty that might provide hope of deterring semi-humans like Cesar Rodriguez and Joel Steinberg. If there is some cosmic fairness, the inmates wherever Rodriguez goes will be better at meting out drumhead justice than were Steinberg's fellow inmates....

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  19. this chlld was no angel- she and her siblings were difficult= for all we know she could have been a border baby- the mother was overwhelmed- like that mother who killed her five children in texas. that these women keep having babies is a sin- the men- who father and keep impregnating women are at fault
    obvioulsy the system failed. the child should have been in therapy- family therapy- parnet with tubes tied.
    we have to do something about preventing women from having more children they can not care for - feed love- etc.
    thankfully for the school system- how many the schools have saved goes unrecognized. undocumented.

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  20. I appreciate the line from Yeats ("Innocence is drowned") as I did my senior thesis at Princeton on "Language and Reality in the Poetry of W.B. Yeats." I think you have something of the poet in you, and this explains your finely tuned sensibility about many issues including child abuse and mortality. Your proposal for improved reporting and ease of reporting is very good. Your call for improved training and staffing at ACS are well informed. But there needs to be a sea change at ACS. There needs to be a greater emphasis on the public health approach to child wellness that begins long before reporting, identification, and monitoring by ACS. The city seems to be embracing the public health idea. The epidemic of diabetes has been approached by the city's Dept. of Health with a public education campaign focusing on bodegas and deli stores: Store workers wearing t-shirts advocating milk and fruit and vegetables instead of junk food. Public health programming would develop well-mother outreach, training, and monitoring of pregnancy. Families and neighbors can be empowered to encourage young pregnant women to go for testing, nutrition training, and education about milestones of child development, safe-baby-healthy baby courses, and mentoring by older women who can play a role in ongoing care and companionship. Nurse and mentor-moms home visitation for low income pregnant women and other troubled or identified mothers can be health promoting and life-saving. These types of early intervention are not new. Many are tested, science-based, well-validated programs that are known to ACS and Mr. Mattingly. What's needed is the political will and the leadership to make public health interventions the state of the art in child wellness in New York City. Thanks, Henry, for bringing this important issue to public attention.

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  21. LIETUVOS6:31 PM

    CAN YOU "STAND" IT?

    According to media reports last night, the grandparents and birth father of at least 2 of the 5 surviving children in the Nixzmary Brown case have filed the first litigation for "Custody".

    WHY NOW PRAY TELL? Why care about the health and well being of the children apart from the fact that the stepfather and mother are in jail pending second degree murder charges? These "relatives" who on camera care so much for Nixzmary in death and all but ignored the grave conditions all six children were living under in life. WHY CARE NOW for the surviving children so much so that they are fighting over custody. W,M,C,A NOW??? STANDING. In order to file civil litigation against another you must have "standing" to initiate a case. Nixzmary is dead and her bothers and sisters most likely were abused. Parents usually file litigation when their child is harmed by another. But what to do when it is the parents themselves are alleged to have caused the harm? Get Custody, then sue. SUE the 21st century's answer to lotto.

    These so called relatives who care SO MUCH for the well being of the surviving children and love them dearly now fight among themselves for CUSTODY. Well, they fight not for the love and care of the children but for the love and care of the all mighty dollar they expect to extort from any deep pocket who could of, should of, or would of been involved in "protecting" the children. Why the District Attorney Office has yet to bring this case to the Grand Jury for Criminal Negligence against these loving "relatives" who could of, should of or would of been involved in protecting Nixzmary and her brothers and sisters is a grave injustice itself.

    So folks, watch and enjoy the "Custody Show" await for its sequel "Sue the City." I would rather see the relatives loving faces on "COPS".

    STRIKE TWO, YOU'RE OUT

    Regarding the rejection of the union agreement by the WTU members. Quick note: all the pundits are stating that another strike is not in the cards, IMPOSSIBLE THEY SAY. Many of them said the same thing before the first strike Christmas Week.

    I am not a betting man but the odds of having another Transit Strike are so much better than the odds of winning the Mega Lotto or any Lotto for that matter. If the case rightfully goes to arbitration, many of these pathetic examples of employment lead by the TWU will call and go on another strike. As Mayor Koch would say, "Do not let these bastards win."

    Governor George, Mayor Mike, Elliot, Hillary, Chuck, Shelly, etc... do you hear me, do you hear me now or are you all disconnected? Try calling Mayor Koch, on this issue you may also reverse the charges.

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  22. A huge thank you for being the voice that says what so many felt after hearing about the death of Nixmary.

    A highly publicized toll free NOABUSE number - - brilliant in its potential effectiveness and simplicity. Accountability accepted - novel idea? Perhaps the legislative action in West Virginia is a rapid response model for "deaths prompt safety overhaul" to prevent reoccurrences - - Whatever the implementation complications may be saving lives would seem to warrant overcoming them.

    You are read and appreciated - - I hope by policy-makers and administrators of the current system that failed Nixmary, Sierra, Dahquay, and Joziah as well.

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  23. It is fine to calculate the children hurt by not being removed from their homes. But what of the children hurt by being removed from their homes? The psychic injury to child and parent is enormous. And what about the false positives, the removal of children who never should have been hurt?

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  26. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Too bad dont get drug out into the street and beat down enough because they sure deserve it, these under educated incompotent baby steelers CPS workers need to be put in check. This is the CPS round up just like the days of Hitler we need to stop these frivolous juvenile corrupt proceedings and quit wasting our tax dollars. CPS workers are nothing but Terrorists among our society. We need to change the laws with the legislative branch and kill the CAPTA law that gives these CPS parasites all that power.

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