The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had all the power in the world to structure status hearings held this week in any order it wanted. It kept telling us, the media and the public, that there were 31 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who were pregnant, mothers or both.My favorite former ACLU employee at Grits for Breakfast (who has shown much more courage and integrity in this matter than the ACLU) had this to say:
Now we know the truth: There are only five girls in that group. All but one are or will be 18 this year. One gave birth when she was 17, three when they were 16. One is pregnant.
I kept asking the state for a breakdown by age of the 31 girls, the 60 percent, it claimed were pregnant or mothers. They refused weeks ago and still haven't done it.
Now we know why.
So we're talking about five teen moms out of 27 teenage girls, not 31 out of 53. But even for those five, said the 3rd Court of Appeals, DFPS did not meet their burden of proof. The court declared that:Nearly 500 kids, and now we find that all this hoopla is because five girls had once been or now are pregnant at age sixteen or seventeen. Grits is absolutely right: you can find this almost anywhere. So if your local high school has five girls who have been pregnant under 18, should they and all the kids there and their siblings be yanked away from their parents and sent to foster care? Maybe only if some of the men involved are over 18. Then send in the tanks!there was no evidence regarding the marital status of these girls when they became pregnant or the circumstances under which they became pregnant other than the general allegation that the girls were living in an FLDS community that condoned underage marriage and sex.So all this hoopla at the end of the day was about five teen moms out of 440 some odd kids. You could go into any community in Texas, I bet, and find the same thing. Not only that CPS presented no evidence about the fathers' age or the girls' marital status upon conception. These data are a far cry, aren't they, from the terrible depictions of abuse CPS portrayed to the press over the last six weeks?
What happens next will be all about avoiding or redirecting blame, with legal chicanery, obstruction, public relations spinning, negotiations behind closed doors, and various power plays. Don't expect many serious apologies. Don't expect the DFPS to work too quickly get anybody back to their parents. Do expect many delays, some heartbreaking cases of kids falling through the cracks, and hundreds of children to continue suffering from a culture of abuse, DFPS style. And expect plenty of religious bigots, including journalists, politicians and media figures, to continue the hysteria and the cruel allegations. If you don't think that some of them would love to send the dogs after us real non-polygamous Mormons, you need to think again. Just how secure are any of you crazy Mormons or crazy Christians of any denomination in your little individual compounds with the children you are indoctrinating with ways so out of synch with the world? Who will stand for you when you want your kids back?
Sadly, I also expect plenty of LDS people, long embarrassed and annoyed by FLDS apostasy and violations of anti-polygamy laws, to continue their "good riddance" attitude about the FLDS mess. Hey, they are US citizens and fellow human beings. Have a little heart for what those young kids are going through and the parents who have had them torn away so cruelly. It's grotesque, and if we don't speak up for them, who will speak up for us when we are next on the list?