Letters to the Editor

Better to err on side of safety

As a volunteer guardian ad litem for Horry County, I recently read a column published by Issac Bailey. Having seen Bailey at some of the court hearings, I assumed he was a child advocate. According to his recent column, this was only an assumption. I was greatly disappointed in a journalist that is able to reach so many with such a disturbing message.

Since I deal with the Department of Social Services on a regular basis, and we don't always agree, I do know that their main goal is reunification with the birth family. I am also very aware that there are many foster families that would give some of these children a much better life, the opportunity to become a better parent themselves, even if just as a family role model.

When Bailey quotes that research suggests a child does better in the long run by staying in a "marginally abusive home" - one in which at least two professionals disagree - than in foster care, and that in-home assistance is more effective, I was surprised. Even though some in-house services are more limited, these services are available to the parent who really wants to make the effort along with a court-appointed attorney.

I have seen firsthand that when dealing with the welfare of a child that there is no such thing as marginally abusive and no such thing as a "simple fight." A criminal past and mental illness are real safety concerns.

For anyone who is falsely accused, I have sympathy. Are mistakes made? Of course, but this is why, as caretakers, we don't let any child suffer from any kind of abuse, no matter how large or marginally abusive it may seem until they are fully investigated.

We all need to report any sign of abuse and neglect. Isn't it better to protect a child, even if sometimes we may be wrong? This is the real smell test: Fill a child with hope and become a child advocate.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.