Originally created 02/12/02

South Carolina family courts fail in their mission



South Carolina's family courts are undergoing an immense reform, the result of many dedicated South Carolinians and lawmakers who took the time to listen to their constituents.

Gov. Jim Hodges was sufficiently influenced, assigning a Senate Judiciary Task Force to arrange public hearings on the issue. Hearings' attendance was phenomenal, and the stories horrific.

The system has the difficult job of trying to make people get along when harmony is not attainable. The family court is also burdened with overseeing the welfare of children when adults lose their parental focus. Abused children can be damaged for life.

In Aiken County a young man was convicted in June 2001 of taking a gun into North Augusta High School. When family court released him, I, as a teacher, expressed concern. The judge's comments expressed questions of what to do with the case.

I now make a plea to Aiken County residents that they demand responsibility and accountability of the adults who sit in a position to help or hurt our children. Now, this same young man is jailed again on charges of stabbing his father. I am saddened by this; however, the scenario could have happened in school with children and educators as the innocent victims.

Contact your South Carolina leaders and insist that we open our eyes to the facts. Is it not enough that children are faced with broken families, crime and abuse, but also that people in authority fail them with reckless attitudes or indifference? We as parents, citizens, educators and taxpayers must require accountability where a child is concerned.

The system has somehow failed that young man. This declaration is for the children who are compromised daily in our halls of justice called, oddly enough, "family court."

Julie C. Hawkins, Graniteville, S.C.