Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sarah Palin's indifference (updated)

Alaska has the highest rate of sexual abuse in the country. The figures have been bad for a long time and things have not changed under Sarah Palin. A boy who was sexually abused by a friend of his mother from the age of six until he was ten is suing the state for compensation. Here are some brief details:

A "culture of indifference" explains why the state agency that is supposed to protect children mishandled almost every report it received about a young boy repeatedly sexually abused by an old man and virtually abandoned by his crack-addicted mother, a lawyer for the boy told an Anchorage jury Tuesday.

"They accept no responsibility but they were aware and, what it appears is, they just didn't care," attorney Cynthia Strout told jurors in closing arguments Tuesday.

But a lawyer representing the state Office of Children's Services says any missteps were minor, caseworkers made reasonable decisions, and damage to the boy is the fault of the boy's mother and her friend who abused him.

The first report came in 1994 about the boy's father abandoning him in a Ketchikan motel. But the pivotal point came on June 12, 1997, when OCS received a report of suspected sexual abuse and didn't investigate even though state law says it has to, the lawyer for the boy, now 18, told the jury.

OCS never interviewed the boy, or anyone else, or followed up in any way to see if the child needed help, his lawyers told jurors.

From that point on, the state was on notice that the boy was in danger, yet the abuse -- and the complaints -- continued until 2001, his lawyers said.

In all, OCS received 19 reports that the boy was being abused or neglected and only two were handled to minimal standards.

The state's lawyers said the cases were handled properly. Supervisors reviewed the casework, attorneys at the Department of Law were notified. Just because boxes weren't checked on forms, she said, it didn't mean the actions weren't done.

And while the boy was harmed, the lawyer said, the damage was from the abuser and his mother. If anyone should pay, she told jurors, it's them.

I gave you the bare bones of this case. For further details, read the full report on ADN.

In other countries, and very likely in other parts of the US, the state would have conducted an inquiry into the case in order to fire the people responsible for failures, correct procedural mistakes and improve services. But not in Alaska.

Sarah Palin is right. People shouldn't turn to the state for help with anything. As long as people like her and the heads of department appointed by her have this kind of attitude, asking the state for help is a bloody waste of time.

Link to the full report.
UPDATE: What the jury decided, ADN


Lisabeth said...

This is really apalling Regina! I have read they are one of the worst states for rape and pregancy too. With such a corrupt government and Sarahs odd beliefs about government I am not surprised. I also feel abuse is involved somewhere with babygate.
Thanks for another good post!

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Well I guess we know what would happen if we reported Trig & Tripp being drugged, even though the finding by the jury...
And while the boy was harmed, the lawyer said, the damage was from the abuser and his mother. If anyone should pay, she told jurors, it's them."
Can anyone tell me WHAT they put in the water up there?????

Kyra said...

This is not just Alaska. My sister's average caseload was about 150 - can you imagine trying to stay on top of that many case? For many years now, people have been saying "taxes bad, government bad, state workers lazy, civil service workers just call it in."

I'm not a social worker but a counselor, but I am a mandatory reporter and additionally a certified victim's advocate. They truly try the best they can (most of the time) but sometimes there is a culture of indifference that develops when they become burned out due to lack of support from on high and lack of funding.

Another thing, is that all of these "Christianistas" believe that government must stay out of the family life (except the bedroom and doctor's office), the man rules the home, the wife and kids subjugate themselves to the husband, etc., and will not cooperate in any kind of investigation. People are also naturally disinclined to interfere in their neighbor's affairs.

We get what we pay for, and for too many years in this country, people have bought into this theory that taxes and government are bad, and we are now paying the price.

FEDUP!!! said...

Totally O/T (sorry for highjacking the post, Reg!)
What's up with the following: "The National Rifle Association Foundation will not present an assault weapon to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at an upcoming banquet despite media reports about the event, including one from its own magazine.

"The event is not happening," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said. "Sarah Palin will not be attending. She was invited, but declined due to a family commitment. This happened weeks ago." " ??? ANOTHER No-show???

onejrkitty said...

You must remember that Palin is a narcissist and exactly what that means !

It is not that Palin does not care, it is more that she never considers caring one way or the other. It is all a non-issue to her. SHE SIMPLY DOES NOT THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS !

All she can think about, the only perspective she can see is HOW IT AFFECTS HER. If it does NOT affect her, then there is no reason for her to think about it.

Narcissism is not a name I am calling her. It is a very real psychological pathology.

Many things that we think are "cruel" of her actually are not because she never stops to consider, much less think (feel) one way or the other.

This is hard for normal people to wrap their brains around, but narcissist are waaaaayyyyyy beyond "self-centered" or "egocentric" or "selfish" --it is SOOOOOOO much JUST about them, that it literally hard to understand exactly how these people think.

This is why Palin can cut funding for special needs kids, go to Indiana to talk about special needs kids instead of here in Alaska and have a special needs child of her own and NOT SEE A DAMN THING WRONG OR CONTRADICTORY ABOUT HER ACTIONS.

In HER head it all makes sense because the ONLY CRITERIA IS HOW IT AFFECTS HER !

So simply that it is overwhelming to more normal people.

LisanTX said...

onejrkitty--thanks for your posts about narcissism and personality disorders. SP provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about narcissism. Unless you've been personally impacted by someone with a personality disorder, it is, as you said, hard for normal people to wrap their brains around!

Most people interpret her actions using their own behavior, emotions and morals as a guide. But that is a mistake in the case of a narcissist. They have no empathy. You cannot attribute your own motivation to their actions. They just don't "think" like most people, as onejrkitty nicely explained.

So try to view her actions taking into consideration the fact that she isn't like most people--she's a narcissist (with some additional traits of other personality disorders such as antisocial PD).

Kevin said...

That was a pretty stingy jury determination that it was only 7% the fault of the agency. The jury understood that it was coming out of their own pockets, something they don't understand, although they should, when they expect that an insurance company will pay.

I haven't read the papers in this case, but as a lawyer I'm familiar with the concept of apportioning damages. In many cases it makes sense intellectually, even though the victim isn't properly compensated because, as in this case, the party with the largest portion of responsibility can't pay.

But the approach seems wrong conceptually in this case, because the mechanism of "causation" is completely different as between the abusers and the agency. Strictly speaking, the agency didn't "cause" any of the boy's injury in the sense of inflicting it, but could have prevented most of it had it done its duty.

The law ought to be changed so that the victim can recover compensation for the portion of the total injury that was reasonably preventable from the person or entity with the duty to protect the victim, and let that entity collect what it can from the party or parties that proximately caused most of the injury.

But ultimately it is a political question. I agree with Kyra, we get what we care enough about to support and pay for, both paying for adequate child protective service staff and recognizing that we, the larger community, are ultimately responsible.

PS My word verification is "bleaker."