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To the State of Texas and the FLDS:
As I’m writing this, scores of infants, toddlers, children and teenagers from the polygamist Yearning for Zion Ranch are being bused across the state, ferried in all directions, hundreds of miles away from their home, to live with foster parents and families.
The judge presiding over this unprecedented custody battle believes it’s in the best interests of the children that they be separated from their biological parents because all of them are in imminent risk of harm.
There is strong evidence to suspect that is true, including multiple allegations that the church arranges marriages between older men and underage girls. The church also practices plural marriages and holds a convicted felon up as a prophet of god. And there are assorted allegations suggesting followers are victimized and brainwashed.
But are the children really better off in foster care?
While the debate rages, should authorities consider less extreme remedies to the problem? Instead of placing the kids in homes far away from the ranch, for example, they could bring them back to the compound and let social workers monitor them.
Child Protection Services case workers, lawyers assigned to the children and other parties, court members... all could have 24/7 access to the children inside the compound. The boys and girls – hundreds we’re talking about here – could move back home with their multiple mothers and siblings, which might create far less trauma to children who have done nothing wrong.
This is not brain surgery. A simple court order could make this possible.
You have to wonder if finding a viable alternative that keeps the children with their mothers in familiar surroundings might be in their best interests.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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