How the Child Welfare System Criminalizes Black and Brown Motherhood (


Jane Crow

Excerpts from piece by Joanna Rothkopf .

“I do not see a lot of child abuse, believe it or not,” Mendenhall said. “What we do see mostly is the result of poverty. We see things that are symptomatic to parental isolation, social stressors. The way that these things get written up in 12-point Courier font on a petition, they’re termed neglect.”

“The Constitution, the law, New York state law, social policy, social services research, biology, all the -ologies,” she continued, “Everyone believes in a room where people are talking about these things, that removal of a child from her home should be a thing of last resort, only in the most drastic cases.” But that’s not so.


Vega is also a parent who had her son taken away by ACS, which she wrote about, after she hit him with a belt—which is how she was raised, and, she says, all she ever knew: She was 19 years old and raising her first child alone. Today, Vega is an advocate, spreading awareness that separating families causes far greater trauma than training parents better disciplinary techniques.

“I kept saying I am not an angry person—I’m angry at the situation that I’m in,” Vega said after detailing the multiple anger management courses she had taken in an attempt to get her son back. “There was always something about why my son couldn’t come home to me. It just make me angrier and angrier, and the system kept saying, why are you so angry?Read more.


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