Nine Year Old Sneaks on Plane–By Himself

In Minneapolis about a week ago, a young boy without a ticket was able to board a plane to Las VegasALONE!colin.nelson.smallfile

His parents thought he’d spent the night at a friend’s house and didn’t discover he was gone until the next morning when the boy showed-up in Las Vegas.  When the father was interviewed, he put a black stocking cap over his head to hide his identity and told the media that his son “had behavior problems.”

I guess so.  The boy was returned a few days later to the Twin Cities and his family.  It turns out the boy also had some delinquency issues although at nine, the state doesn’t prosecute kids that young.  The parents claimed they had asked the schools and the government for help with his problems but never received any assistance.

What happens now?

Since the boy is under ten years old, his case will be treated as a child protection matter.  In Hennepin County where he lives, the prosecutor has filed a Petition alleging that he is a Child in Need of Protection and/or Services.  (The acronym is CHIPS)  The family made a court appearance last week and the judge removed the child from their care temporarily.

What happens in a CHIPS case?

Facts must be alleged that will give the judge some evidence that the child is in need of protection or services.  Common allegations may be of violence toward the child, abandonment, the chemical dependency of the parents, the mental health of the parents, and other illegal activities the parents may be involved in that would jeopardize the welfare of the child.  It’s not a criminal case so no one is going to be found guilty of “bad parenting.”  Once the case is filed, the parents have a choice to fight the allegations at a trial or accept a Case Plan from the social workers involved in the case.

In my experienced with these cases, the majority of parents accept the case plan and begin working on it.  Typically, these plans will include activities that the social workers think will restore the family to a position where the child is not in danger.  Here’s a list of some of the common requirements:

–chemical dependency treatment

–mental health assessments and recommendations

–parenting assessments and recommendations

–anger management classes

–therapy, both individual and family

If the parents complete the case plan, they will be reunited with their child.  Often, the child must also go through a case plan of therapy or health related issues.  If the parents don’t complete it, they eventually risk losing their parental rights forever.

The case in Minneapolis has just begun.  The case plan for those parents included parenting assessments, therapy for the family, and assessments of the child also.  I’ll keep you up to date on the progress of the case.

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