Put those chips down! Apparently, the laws on snacks are getting a bit more harsh in the Buckeye State of Ohio based on a recent story about Cuyahoga County's Child Protection Services. A 3rd grader from Cleveland Heights, a suburb of Cleveland was removed from his mother's care by child protective services for being morbidly obese.
The child weighs about 200 pounds and state authorities say that his extreme obesity was a form of neglect and county officials had the right to intervene.
Talk about your government overreach.
First, Ohio is the last state where any government agency should have the right to start snatching kids from their homes based on weight issues. According to research, over 12% of state third graders are severely obese, so what makes this mother more unfit than anyone else? On a grander scale Ohio is the 13th fattest state out of 50, with over 30% of the state being too fat to stay with their mothers apparently.
While I applaud county officials concerns about children this case smacks of incompetence, classism and possibly racism. If childhood obesity is such a big deal, how about spending more tax dollars on school gyms rather than canceling all physical activities other than recess like most city schools do?
Moreover, how is taking a child out of their home and putting them into foster care going to improve their chances of losing weight? If the kid is a stress eater this will only make matters worse. Plus, the mother was clearly already in the social services system, otherwise Child Protection Services wouldn't have known of this case. So my question is: what kinds of warnings did she receive? What if she was living in a lousy neighborhood with no safe parks or off-market grocery stores where quality food was too expensive or hard to come by? There are whole swaths of the Cleveland metropolitan area that don't have much more than a corner store or a CVS so you have to ask if this was a case of class discrimination, as well, for a woman who was already part of the system. And it goes beyond saying that if this was a White child of means living in a comfortable suburban county, officials would not have dared taking that child away from his mother even if he answered the door sitting in a hover-round with Cheetos crumbs on his shirt and an X-Box controller in his hand.
Childhood obesity is a problem, but so is classism, racism and government overreach. In a county with crumbling infrastructure, inefficient public services and a horrible graduation rate, you would think social services could find a better way to use its time and resources rather than snatching fat kids out of the gingerbread house.
Dr. Jason Johnson, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson