There are a number of things that could get you a visit from child protective services. Forgetting to feed your kids for three days straight, for example, would undoubtedly result in the CPS knocking on your front door. The same goes for doing physical harm to your children and just generally not carrying out your responsibilities as a caring, nurturing parent. You would never expect, however, that child protective services would get involved for something as simple as switching your kid’s dentist, but for one mother in Canada, that’s exactly what happened.
When Melissa Lopez decided to go to a second dentist to get another opinion regarding her daughter’s teeth, she never expected that she would be reported to a social services agency. Much to her surprise, Melissa found herself reported for what was considered to be “oral neglect.”
“For someone to turn around and try to accuse me of neglecting her, its absurd,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Indeed, based on what we already know about the situation, it does seem unnecessary and even a bit silly for social services to have gotten involved. The first dentist that Melissa Lopez took her daughter Elianna to informed her that Elianna had nine cavities, which meant that Melissa would have to spend thousands of dollars to get them fixed.
When Melissa found herself becoming a bit skeptical about how much work she had been told had to be done on her daughter’s teeth, she decided to go to a second dentist to get another opinion. The second dentist told her that Elianna didn’t need as much dental work as the previous dentist had originally told her, so Melissa decided to go there.
When Melissa forgot to contact the first dentist’s office and tell them that she was going with someone else for her daughter’s dental work, the first dentist decided to call the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), who then informed Melissa that she was under investigation for “oral neglect.” Even though Melissa provided the CAS with proof that she had in fact gotten her daughter the dental care that she needed, her name will still be on file for the rest of her life. (Related: Pediatrician calls child protective services on mother for refusing to vaccinate her child.)
“It will always be there, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” Melissa said of the CAS’s file they now have on her. “I’m red-flagged, I’ve been marked, and there’s no reason for this to have happened.”
As ridiculous as all of this sounds, it is worth noting that the dentist who reported Melissa was simply complying with the law. According to Kevin Marsh, the director of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, The Child and Family Services Act requires that everyone in the healthcare field get in touch with the Children’s Aid Society if they suspect that some form of abuse or neglect is happening. (Related: Will your child be removed from home for refusing vaccines?)
“Health-care professionals and other people who work closely with children have a special responsibility under the act,” Marsh said in an interview with CBC. Melissa, however, disagrees with the CAS getting involved, and still feels as though she did nothing wrong.
“I would absolutely love it if they would just remove that file for me, because I don’t feel there was any just reason to report me in the first place,” she said. “As a mother, you pride yourself on how you raise your kids. I have three kids – they’re healthy, they’re happy, they do great in school, they have lots of friends,” Melissa continued. “For someone to turn around and try to accuse me of neglecting her, it’s absurd.”
To be fair, Melissa did have a responsibility to contact the first dentist and inform him that they were switching to someone else, but on the flip side, it wouldn’t have been difficult for the first dentist to reach out to Melissa before contacting CAS either.