Scooping Tiny Tim
Who steps in to help a child having difficulties in his home environment? The extended family? The neighbourhood? The school? The Church? Nope; rather the government and a growing social service industry.
Admittedly there are cases of real abuse or of a need for short-term alternative housing , or for counselling or a breathing space for a parent. But the reality is that social service has a large percentage of workers, young, unmarried, without children of their own and receiving daily lectures on the frightening prospects of professional liability.
I remember the news story of a clean sweep of children's aid in a prairie community. The new appointees went through all of the case files and multiplied shockingly the number of child apprehensions. Better to be safe than sorry. Let the parents struggle in court to prove themselves worthy. And in this fashion many youngsters were introduced to a long and sad line of foster homes. Parents gone. Roots torn.
Interestingly at this very moment a local radio station has teamed up with Family and Children's Services to run a telethon entitled "Tree of Hope". Christmas music is played. The heart strings are pulled. Testimonies are given of young lives saved by a second chance, and even of parents of questionable life-style turned around. Many companies are meeting and making challenges in the spirit of the season. But do they realize that there is nothing Christmas about it; rather that it is an appeal for the general coffers of Children's Aid. I have watched this Agency collect facts with the appearance of offering help, only to turn around and criminalize and 'prosecute' the parents who gave information freely and without counsel.
Do the listeners get this as they hear the ads? Have they driven by the chief facility of the Agency to see the large construction project underway? More space to house the "scooped" children, or to process the parents for substance abuse, money counselling and life-style change. Perhaps the listeners do get it, but are quite prepared to offer a sterile hands-off means of help, CHYMing in once again, "The government oughta have a program for this."
If the Cratchett family appeared in this generation it is likely that Scrooge would feel no compulsion toward mercy. The Agency would be at hand to scoop Tiny Tim! Bob, his wife and the rest would be devastated.