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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Reading between the lines
Jonathan Pait
February 12, 2002

The judge has spoken and the compromise reached, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions and some disturbing information coming from the Rettew/DSS settlement. We are also told that there is "more to come." Regardless of what might come, there is one aspect of this entire case that should make all parents sit up and take notice.

This editorial once again will not seek to defend the Rettews. Even with the information we have received, we still do not know all of the particulars. The charges of medical and educational neglect have not been quantified. It would not be wise to judge on those matters at this time.

However, some wording on another charge gives us a glimpse into the nature of the "charges." We learned from News Channel 4 that one of DSS stipulations was that "the Rettews 'shall not use corporal punishment,' a primary reason for the finding of threat of physical abuse." Are you a parent that uses spanking? If so, take note.

One thing that needs to be clearly pointed out is that the children in the Rettew home were not placed there by the DSS. DSS had zero jurisdiction over the children. Why is that important? Simply put, if DSS had placed the children in the home then they would have had the opportunity to set down the guidelines for how the children were to be disciplined. The Rettews could have then refused to house the children or agree to the DSS guidelines.

If DSS had placed the children and the Rettews had used corporal punishment, then we could not complain about the DSS actions. However, DSS used the fact that the Rettews used corporal punishment as a reason to place the children under DSS control. I repeat, not to return the children to DSS control, but to initiate DSS control.

Is corporal punishment indeed construed to be a "threat of physical abuse?" Does this mean that any parent in the state of South Carolina must be concerned that DSS will initiate control of our children because we pose the "threat of physical abuse" because we use corporal punishment?

We will not delve into the discussion of spanking at this point. You can read about that in "The DSS Mess." Suffice to say that properly administered spanking is not abuse. The DSS needs to clarify. If the Rettews harmed the children by inflicting bodily harm, then tell us.

The wording leaves us with the impression that the Rettews did not actually harm the children. The between the lines communication comes across, "We can't point out that they were abusive with the children, but because we know that they used corporal punishment, then we conclude that there is definite potential that they could and may physically abuse the children."

Is that the case? If so, then there are many of Greenville's most upstanding and God fearing citizens who pose a physical threat to their children.

We don't know all the facts about the case. I trust I am simply overreacting to what I read between the lines. However, if things remain the way they are, the mess at DSS is not just in Massachusetts, it is right here in Greenville, South Carolina.

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