Is It OK To Remove A 200 Pound 3rd Grader From His Home Due To His Weight?

by Daily Curve on November 29, 2011

in Daily Curve

An 8-year-old, 3rd grade boy was recently removed from his home and placed into foster care by authorities in Ohio mainly because of his weight. At 200 pounds, the boy is considered by medical professionals to be obese and subject to hypertension, diabetes, and a myriad of other weight-related healthy issues.

[A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Family Services] said that the child’s weight gain was caused by his environment and that the mother wasn’t following doctor’s orders — which she disputes.

“This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody,” Madigan said. The agency worked with the mother for more than a year before asking Juvenile Court for custody of the child, she said.

Lawyers for the mother, a substitute elementary school teacher who is also taking vocational school classes, think the county has overreached in this case by arguing that medical conditions the boy is at risk for — but doesn’t yet have — pose an imminent danger to his health.

They question whether the emotional impact of being yanked from his family, school and friends was also considered.

“I think we would concede that some intervention is appropriate,” Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata said. “But what risk became imminent? When did it become an immediate problem?”

Children are ordinarily removed from their homes for physical abuse, neglect or undernourishment.

But we ask, is it the government’s responsibility and right to take a child away from his/her parents and placed into the foster care system because of their weight? Is it considered abuse to have an overweight child?

source Cleveland.com; image via Fuzzy Gerds

~Angie

Rachel November 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Oy. This is a very slippery slope they’ve started down. Initially I was undecided. That a child would be able to get to 218lbs without his parents intervening before then does raise some eyebrows. However, after reading the entire article, I have to conclude that he was definitely not in any imminent danger, and given that I hear about 1/2 dozen stories of children in horrific situations every week, I am appalled that DCFS would remove the child in this situation. Clearly, there needs to be some kind of intervention. The child’s weight needs to be addressed, and obviously, the parents are having trouble doing so. However, instead of pulling him from the home, provide them with additional resources. If he recently started gaining weight back, find out why before putting him in foster care! My brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 11. His blood sugar levels were out of control. Literally. And it’s hard. It’s hard to completely change a child’s diet. It’s hard to tell him he can’t have the candy and cookies anymore. Especially when there are siblings in the household. It’s hard for one person to make a lifestyle change. Try doing it with a family of 5. It takes time. A LOT of time. And unless you’re on The Biggest Loser with your own nutrionist and personal trainer, it takes a lot of time to lose weight. And there’s backsliding. I just feel like this measure was too drastic.

daisy November 30, 2011 at 9:29 am

“But we ask, is it the government’s responsibility and right to take a child away from his/her parents and placed into the foster care system because of their weight?”
This question I can answer no problem, however I believe that is because it is too open-ended. Because a malnourished child being removed from the home would be a (low) weight issue.
The average height/weight for an 8/9 year old is 4′ tall and 60 lbs – at 200 lbs this poor child is a little over 3x’s what he should weigh. This is just sad, not a government issue.

Lori December 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I really wonder if this is the whole story. As a foster parent and spouse of a social worker, it takes A LOT to get a child removed from a home. Almost all dcfs offices all over the country are overworked and understaffed. I promise you a social worker who already has far too many kids on their case load is not going to take the time to remove a child from a home unless something major is going on. Most children who are removed have had between 5-10 calls to cps made on their behalf before they are actually put into foster care. This article may be implying that weight is the only reason the boy was removed, but I seriously doubt that is the entire story. The mom may be trying to paint this as only a weight issue, but, again, I can not believe there isn’t more going on here.

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