With the people who knew but did not act, I am more interested in their ability to keep the child safe in the future than whether they had a good reason for not acting in the past.I think that's true. Don't get me wrong. It would still *really* bother me that anyone who knew about abuse or neglect wouldn't at least try to stop it... especially a relative or close friend. It seems to me they, of all people, have a responsibility to act. After all, if the child is older and knows that a friend or family members knows, the implicit message is that what's happening is OK, or that they deserve it.
Analyzing reasons for action or inaction is probably very difficult and as, Steph points out, very subjective. It's probably also nearly impossible to do with any accuracy.
But I'm not sure that predicting future action or inaction is that much easier or less subjective. And, if a system is predisposed to one outcome (reunification with biological families) then the subjectivity might be likely to cloud accurate judgments. When predicting future action, biorelatives will get the benefit of the doubt. Which is not a bad thing, except that we are considering the futures and welfare of REAL children, children who could be hurt because someone thought *this* time their families might pull it together and protect them.
So I guess the question still stands - how can we predict that an adult who is seeking placement of a child can prevent future abuse, if they did nothing or very little to prevent past abuse? And the larger question I'm really driving it is, I think, whether reunification with biofamilies as the primary case goal in all cases is a good one?