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Minnesota parents seek changes to child protection laws

June 6, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A group of Minnesota parents are seeking for some of the state’s child protection laws to be declared unconstitutional, alleging they deprive families of due process.

The Stop Child Protection Services From Legally Kidnapping organization filed a letter in federal court Tuesday, The Star Tribune reported . The laws are overly broad and put children at risk of being removed from safe homes, the letter said.

“Families are being abused, and in some cases, destroyed, as a result of laws that are inappropriate,” said Dwight Mitchell, the lead plaintiff in the case and founder of the parents’ group. “This is legal kidnapping.”

The group is seeking stronger parental protections and the right to corporal punishment and discipline for their children.

The organization said it’s found nearly 50 cases where children were wrongly removed from homes and placed in foster care using false or disputed evidence. The group alleges that the state’s laws criminalize parents for routine parental discipline and disproportionately impact black families.

Black children are about three times more likely than white children to be reported to child protection and removed from their homes, according to state figures.

In a civil rights lawsuit that went public in April, Mitchell alleged that child protection workers took custody of his three children after a babysitter reported that one of his sons had been spanked for stealing and being disobedient. Mitchell said it took two years for him to be reunited with his son, during which the child suffered lasting emotional trauma.

The state is making changes based on recommendations from Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2015 special task force on child protection, such as enhanced training and hiring more social workers, said Emily Piper, the Human Services Commissioner.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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