What constitutes suitable child living conditions?


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Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 2, 2018 - 01:11am PT
"Joshua Tree couple arrested after three kids found living in squalid shelter for four years, authorities say"

So this would be a deluxe setup for a camping trip. Do we need to worry that children will be taken from families if they make them sleep in tents in freezing temps? What about on tarps looking up at the stars?

Is the problem the duration? What if these kids have emotionally stable parents but non-conformist ideas about comfort and lifestyle... what is the exact circumstance that warrants the kids being removed:

1. Long term living in low ambient temperatures? What if the kids have good sleeping bags and clothing? What if they are just tough now from living in cold temps and they feel fine?

2. Lack of flushing toilet or hand washing facilities... is a pit with lime considered unworthy? What if they have hand sanitizer or jugs of water and soap?

3. Is it the idea of doing stuff that would be "normal" for a brief camping trip but the problem is just too long of a duration? Who decides how long is too long? What about families that live in vans and tour around multiple continents for years? They would have similar circumstances, but just not have the appearance of as much poverty.

I have lots of mixed feelings on this one for not knowing where the line would ultimately get drawn if you adopt a permanent camping lifestyle and still provide for the kids' emotional and physical needs. It is creepy that soft squishy nature-phobic people (i.e. the majority of our society) can project their values with sufficient force to take away kids.

Maybe there are more issues at play here and I'm over-reacting or mis-interpreting the situation, but this seems worthy of discussion and different viewpoints.

Balcarce, Argentina
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:18am PT
Did you ever watch that documentary film about Dorian Paskowitz? I suppose the way his kids were raised could have bordered on abuse and some of them carried hard feelings about their upbringing. I'd never raise a kid that way. But I also have apprehensions about an overzealous state jumping in to intervene. The generally accepted idea of what counts as abuse has changed a lot since I was a kid.

Edit to add: the film is called "Surfwise" and I watched it on Netflix.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:27am PT
In my mind it completely depends on how they are being treated. If their parents love them and treat them well and share their living conditions why not help them instead of tear them apart. If the parents are douch canoe tweakers its a whole different ball game. There was a nice family that came to our church when I was a kid. they invited us to dinner a few times. He was an artist, she was probably full time mom and gardener. They lived way up in a holler in a bunch of randomly connected shacks. some of them with tarps for walls and roofs. Grew all their own food, Drank red wine and likely smoked weed?
Kids seemed reasonably well adjusted to a preachers kid who had home made hats and mittens, home brewed lye soap which seriously does NOT work in my memory but that may well be my reaction to rock hard yellow brick that makes zero suds... home grown food, bread, butter, milk cow etc.. We always brought them a sh#t ton of food when we visited and the adults drank wine...
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:32am PT
They were living in a plywood box surrounded by junk and their own refuse.

This isnít the moral high ground you are looking for.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:34am PT
This being a Cali centric site I will likly make waves with this one. I ran into a 9 year old kid on tour living with his parents in a buss who had been to 250 shows... I have a much bigger problem with his than I would with them living in the country in the same buss growing and raising their own food.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:36am PT
yes jebus. that looked like a shithole. You can live frugaly and primitively and still be neat and clean...
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:49am PT
What shows?

California has had plenty of these stories, I donít know what waves you speak.

Iím thinking those JTree summers in a plywood box? Yikes! I canít believe it was four years, I had seen reference to this story but didnít get the time-frame.

I can see thereís sometimes a thin border between what we could call in a blanket term ďalternative lifestylesĒ and abuse cases. Throw in fundamental Mormons raising them up into bigamy and the the like too.

I would be interested to hear more about non traditional upbringings that are thriving. More details might be necessary but I donít think this story is that.

Edit: Yes, Tradman, I saw that photo of the pitted RV and squalid, low plywood box surrounded by trash.... This is not wandering into the woods to the beat of your own drum.

I get that thereís a difference and an argument to be made for other situations.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 04:52am PT
the siblings, ages 11, 13 and 14 ... The children are not enrolled in public schools, and it's unclear whether they were being home-schooled.
I'd like to hear more about if they were actually homeschooled, and if it was done well.
I don't really care about the shelter they were living in; seems adequate.
It was reported they were well fed.

Worlds different from the kids in Perris.

[Edit:] Home schooled and doing fine.
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 05:07am PT
Something strikes me wrong saying a situation without the basics of life living in a 4í tall box is ďadequateĒ in this country. Sure, if weíre purposefully raising them up to be trash harvesting squatters spreading their refuse and children like Russian thistle across the land, then I guess thatís adequate.

Jim Henson's Basement
Mar 2, 2018 - 05:54am PT
Interesting discussion. I'm guessing it all "depends"

The J-Tree story clearly in my mind illustrates a situation where it was time for authorities to intervene . I think the tipping points for me in that case would be duration, lack of sanitation and water and at the very least- some kind of outhouse. Heat and cold can often be managed.

I don't know the parents situation. How did they end up homeless and what was the motivation for keeping the kids with them and why didn't they ask for aid?

As for alternate lifestyles... I grew up with a group of kids that their parents did craft fairs for a living. They all lived in Winnebagos, traveled constantly and were home schooled. (a subject for another thread) . Most were really smart and well adjusted. My biggest beef was the parents who neglected the home-schooling. I had teenage girl working for me for several years who did not know how to read or write - which I considered severe neglect on the part of her mother.

My next-property neighbors growing up were hippy artists that lived in a two-room tiny house with their one child. They lived like pioneers- no electricity, wood burning stove to heat the house, cook and boil water for food and bathing. They raised animals and had a garden. The daughter was picked up by a school bus every day and got an education. Basic needs were taken care of.


Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Mar 2, 2018 - 05:56am PT
Looks like Jstan's got another project.


Happie-G wanted a piece of land there where she could camp, but she found out she was only allowed to camp for three days out of a month.

If that's the rule, then where the HELL was County Code Enforcement for the last FOUR years while these tweakers were amassing all that sh#t?

Mar 2, 2018 - 06:02am PT
That looks pretty damned squalid.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Mar 2, 2018 - 06:13am PT
Well based in a couple of paragraphs and a picture of their hovel, it doesn't seem suitable to me. I'm glad to read the kids were likely not being abused. And I'll allow I don't know any more than that very short story, so there could be tons of mitigating circumstances. But given the condition of the place I doubt that sound home schooling was in place but of course I don't know that.

I can understand the county removing the kids. As for the parents, well, a jury of their peers will ultimately have to take the suitability decision, right? That's our system.


Jim Henson's Basement
Mar 2, 2018 - 06:15am PT

Law enforcement probably tries to stay the hell away from these places. It's a big desert to monitor and there are a lot of these encampments with less-than-stable personalities lurking around. The presence of the kids is the only reason they intervened.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 2, 2018 - 07:05am PT
maid. shows and tour = Greatful Dead and NO living on tour with a child is not responsible parenting. especially when that child is learning how to be a candy man.. Our friends the artists and organic farmers who lived up a holler with no electricity were responsible. their kids went to school and seemed pretty well adjusted. parents did not seem to drink any more than my parents and my dad was the local minister...

Sport climber
Mar 2, 2018 - 07:08am PT
As for the parents, well, a jury of their peers will ultimately have to take the suitability decision, right?

Ya, peers from JT, hahaha. Does 'peers', in this case, mean other folks who also live in squalor and keep their kids in plywood boxes?
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 07:18am PT
On second thought, I would like the option of housing my chilluns in a plywood box outside of the house.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 2, 2018 - 07:28am PT
Another view...

Thought-provoking issue and responses.

"I have lots of mixed feelings on this one..."

We're all now living in this Era of Mixed Feelings.

Mar 2, 2018 - 07:57am PT
Family camping (sleeping in the open on the ground in the cold) can be an extremely enriching family experience. Iím having a hard time seeing anything enriching in that photo.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 2, 2018 - 08:37am PT
Thatís better than what this Ďteacherí was doing:

Teacher tried to create 'army of children' to launch terror attacks in London
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