During the craziness of this year, many of our children find themselves in the unusual circumstance of living in potentially dangerous situations. In addition to the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, insecurity in income, housing, and food, add stress that affects the lives of many family members. These stressors are currently enhanced, now that family members are forced to spend more time together, indoors,
During times of crisis, society’s most vulnerable members typically are most at risk. And, so it is for children during this time. Having very little power to alter their environment or life situations, they are dependent upon adults to keep them safe and healthy.
Families spending unusually large amounts of time together do well to establish boundaries for playing, working, and attending school. Designating specific areas for those activities, allows family members to operate in a more relaxed manner. And, being relaxed and comfortable is the opposite of feeling overcome by stress!
It is also important to give more thought than usual to securing dangerous items, so that kids are less likely to access them. Think about items such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription (and non-prescription) medicines, and firearms. While those items should always be secured from children, their security is of even greater importance currently, since children have more time athome to explore and to experiment.
And, of course, potential dangers to our children, via the internet, are enhanced now that children spend even more time online, for activities such as their schooling, and other group meetings. In fact, according to the FBI, “The internet, for all of its benefits, also gives criminals and predators an easy way to reach young people. The FBI most often sees crimes against children begin when an adult:
Our courts began operating far differently than usual, beginning in March, 2020, and they continue to still do so today. This process began when Governor Abbott issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, “certifying that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas.” He authorized the suspension of the normal rules and procedures for the “conduct of state business… that would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this disaster.” Following that declaration, both The Supreme Court of Texas, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, issued their “First Emergency Order Regarding The Covid-19 State Of Disaster,” which drastically changed the way that Texas courts operate.1 Texas courts are, however, and have been, open and operating, albeit differently than they did prior to March 13, 2020.
Many courts are not currently operating as they did before during this shutdown. They are, however, open, and processing some cases. Here, in Texas, our state courts are holding “essential” hearings, via Zoom. Essential hearings, in the context of Texas Family Law cases, consist of those concerning matters such as temporary restraining orders, CPS child removal, and applications for protective orders (due to allegations of family violence). All others, such as routine divorce temporary orders hearings, are presently not occurring before June 1, 2020.
It was reported earlier this week that with the number of Covid-19 corona virus cases increasing, the 11 regional presiding judges in Texas earlier this week began appointing judges within their respective region to be available to process cases where infected people refused to self-quarantine. The Texas Office of Court Administration is in charge of this project. When can someone be forced into quarantine, and what are the criteria for making that decision? That is what we will discuss today.
Since there have been no reported cases in Texas where a person infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus has refused to self-quarantine, this week’s actions are merely precautionary. According to personnel at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas who I spoke with on March 5, 2020, they have previously had to require patients infected with tuberculosis to be quarantined, when those patients refused to self-quarantine themselves. So, the potential refusal of a patient infected with Covid-19 to self-quarantine should not be surprising.