A social worker I know once described a major frustration of working in a state system. Sometimes a child is clearly being abused but not badly enough to justify removing the child from the unhealthy environment. At that point, the depressing hope for the future may be that the child be abused just badly enough to provide enough evidence to get him or her out of the awful situation.
I was reminded of this sad description by a New York Times article on the long history of pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Terrible as the oil spill may be, one positive aspect is that serious attention and money are finally being given to the region.