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Judith K. Adams, Ph.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
7170 South Brden
Suite 160: Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136
hone (918) 494-5010 FA (918) 494-5825
Child Protective Serice:
Reporing, Investigation, and Judicial Action
In te past 20 years� repors of alleged chd abuse have been increasig at a alang rte.
Te sttstcs are ofen used to fel aa ad to advocate for icreased fdig to protect
chldren. However, cla about a epidemc of chld abuse ae msleadig. Te use of
sttstics ofen seres ony to create hystera abou chd abuse, ad as a avenue to gai
more politca power. I realit, te clais about chd abue ae not based on accuate
nubers. Furerore, meely maig clas about te icrease nmber of reors
overlooks a vastly geater problem wit te whole child protectve sstem.
Some obserers cla tat hystera has set in and abuse is beig 'discovered' whee none
exst. A multitude of problems hve emerged witn te child protectve syst� fom te
aonymous reporg, throug ivestgatve procedues, war tless seaches of homes,
and uautored body seaches of childre. Te problems rnge fom te laws theselves
icluding vage deftions of what contttes chld abuse and neglect, overly-broad
reorg requements, poor ivestgatve methods, ad lack of justce i te judicia
handlig of such cases. Systems which were desiged to protec chldren are not protectg
children, but ae, i fct, destoyg thousads of fales each day. Chld protectve
agencies operte witout accoutabilit, even to te goverors ad legslators of tei
respective sttes. Te problem of a child protective system whch is out-of-contol is not
lited to one distct or stte, but setches across te Unted States ad aoWd te world.
In additon, a nuber of sources have begu to identf civ rgts ad due process
violatons i te judicial procedues whch are used. Te hasty removal of children is
conducted i a man er whch protects neiter te rgts of chdren or of their paents. A
system whch was set u to protect chldren is not, i reat, protectng tem and is, i may
cases, subjectngtem to even geater rsk ofpbysica, emotona, ad sexl malteatent.
1. INFLATED STATISTICS: Te nube of chld abuse repors has been stadily
icreasig, wit tese statstcs ofen beig cited i a emotona appeal for
geater fdig al ocaton ad icreased ala about te hOlors of chd abue.
Te Chid Welfe Leage of Aerca repored tat in te ten ye beteen
198 ad 1993, repor of chld abue ad neglect rose by 68% (Pett, et a.,
195, p. 5).
The citing of statistcs to juti child protection interention has been referred
to as "1 number 'lme" (Prd, 1994; p. 29-42). Wexler (1995) presents an
interesting discssion of how to pla "the numbers," meaning tht the numbers
"are bandied about" and numbers that call the approach of the 'child saers'
into question are igored (. 77).
"A claim tht is ofen made about child maltreatent is that the problem is
getting worse and is reaching 'epidemic' proportion. The use of the word
'epidmic, ' a medical metaphor, has the efect suggesting that the problem is
out-olcontrol, is outside the range of normal social and political discourse, and
is so wide-spread and seriou that dratic action are reqUired" (obin, 1991. p.
8). These statistics are used to help generate a 'moral panic' (. 9).
The repated citation o/ statistics are used to create an hysteria (Prid, 1986),
which has also been called "creation of a moral panic" (obin, 1991, p. 9). Te
citing of statistcs fels the hysteria around the emotonal issue of child abuse
and alows child adocates to seek aditionljnancial resources. Sowell (1996)
states that those who quote these statistics are doing so "on their own behal
for money and power- Dnd children are just pans. "
Other authors (ride, 1986, Scott, 1994) hae reached the concluion that the
child protcte system i out-/-ontol, rather than the child abuse problem.
In adition, several authors hae adressed the poiitcalizDtion of 'child abuse'
for the sake of obtainingjnding and underining /amilies (Hackng, 1995, pp.
57 . 60; Sowel, 1996; Whitehead 1985). In/act, the number a/ substantiated
f l
. I
! ..
57-60; Sowell, 1996; Witehead, 1985). In fact, the number oJsubstantiated
cases of abuse has not grown at the same rate as the overall number of reports
(Scott, 1994: Sowell, 1996).
While the infation of statistics about reported child abuse and neglect ma
create panic and make it much easier 10 get money (Pride. 1986), these statistics
are highl unreliable (Robin, 1991, p. 8). Distinctions beneen suspected and
conrmed cases of abuse, as well as beteen cases of child beating and all
other forms a/maltreatent are, at best, blurred (. 8). Child abuse may
include only slapping or spankng a child.
Douglas Besharov, former director of the National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect estimates that 80 percent of substantiated child abuse reports involve
excessive corporal pnishment (which to man social workers means an
spankng, minor physical neglect, educatonal neglect, or emotional
maltreatment (Cited in Prde, 1994; p. 31).
Moreover, the proportion of sbstantiated reports out of the total number of
reports has been declining (Ceci and Brck, 1995: pp. 21-26). The proportion
of unsubstlnttd or unfunded reports has risen from 35% of the total to
about 60% of the total (esharov, 1985; Wexler, 1992). Across the United
States, approximately 60% of all reports result in an "unsubstantiated"
determination, but the resultant devouring of child protective resources is
unacceptable. The damage to children andjamilies is unconscionable.
Wexler (1995) says that out o/eer 100 repor aleging child abuse or
at least 58 are fale
21 are mosty pover cases
6 are seual abuse
4 are minor physical abuse
4 lre unspecid physical abuse
3 are emotonal malteatent
3 lre "other" malteatent
1 i major physical abuse (. 87)
The categor of"other
a include such things as singling ouf
a child/or more punishment, more chores, or fewer reward,forcing a child
to wear clothing deemed to be "inappropriate"jor his or age or sex; not
providing "securit or stabilit
for the child; barring the child from extra"
curricular activities. or using excessive threats or pschological punishments
To frther complicate the matter, the onl statistics which are aailable are
those from governmental agenCies which hae a vested interest in reporting as
much child abue as possible. Scott (1994; p. 29) reports that the shockn
fgres are usualy accompanied by pleas for more money and more unchecked
power for child protective serice workrs. No statistics are Qailable
arding the number of children who were injured, abused neglectedt or
sexualy molested while in State cutod. Furthermore. one author estimates
that children are 10 times more likl to be ahused while in State custod than
in their biolo
ical homes (Scott, 1994, p.J02).
Aditonal panic is feled by claims of the number of deaths due to child abuse.
Actally, the numher of dath from child ahuse ;s extemeLy small, about 1250
children nationide. While each death is tragic, the rate is less than 2
thouandths of one percent (. ¯ . 00002) of the number of children in the United
States. Risk fom other factors, such as automobile aCCidnts, aCCidental falls,
and several other medical condition are jar greater than the risk as the result
ofchild abuse (Statistical Abstract ofthe United States, 1994, p. 93).
The Child Welare Leage estimated that there were 2000 fatalities from child
abuse, nationally, in 1993 although actualy statstics onl talied J028 deaths
of child abuse (CurtiS. el al . a J995. p. 4). Estimates of the number of children
who die ofabuse each year var but another source (ASVO. Nov. 1996. p. 2)
reported that 800 children d,e annualy in Joster care in Caliornia alone.
Across a/I states, it is difclt 10 deterine how
any children are abused or
even die while in state custod.
In short, the statistics re
arding child abue are highly supect to anone who
studies the "child protective sstem. " The mani
ulation of statistics to create
a sense ofpanic or "crisis" has been used/or nearly 20 yearsa As the following
information wil show, rather than providing Q solution for child protecton, the
current sstem is making the problem far worse: placing children at greater
risk of harm and destroyin
nearly a milion jamilies a year.
2. VAGUE DEFINITIONS: Oklaoma Law says tat ay person who Uhavg reason
to beleve tat a chd has tlhd physical inju or injures ifcted upon te chld
by oter ta accidetl mea where the iju appeas to have been caused as a
resut of physical abuse, sex abuse, or negect shall repor te mater prompty
to te Deparent ofHwa Serces i te couty wherei te suspected iju
occur ed." (OK 10 Sec. 7103: AI). Laws defg chd abuse va
fom one stte to aoterq wit lte ufort.
Robin (1991) notes "defnitions of child abuse and neglect are unnecessarily
vague and fail to clearly speci standrd for reporting and case assessment
(. 5). He frther notes that nowhere are there clear-cut defnitions o/what is
encompassed by the terms (. 6).
Defnitions of what constittes "abuse" and "neglect are unclear. Lists of
physical sm
toms are slightly better than defnitions of emotional abuse.
sexual abuse, or neglect, since obserable medical sigs can be identied.
Ofen lsts o/what should be considered abuse are al-encompassing and
include contradictor sigs as "indicators. " Normal behavior is not easily
distingished/rom abuse-related smptoms (see Kalichman, 1995; pp. 25-29).
Douglas Besharov, frst director ofthe National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect (CCAN), as cited by Robin (1991t p. 6) has noted lithe vageness and
overbreadth oj the standrd governing child abuse standrd. " As a result,
child protective agenc deCision makers rel on personal interpretations and
values, rather than on clearly articlated social gidelines (obin, 1 991: p. 6).
The current las and polic gidelineso which are inadequate to permit social
workrs to make clear decisions about whether a situation should be
considered abuse, need to be reviewed. The recently revised Child Abuse
Prevention and Treatent Act (CAPTA; J 996), which was signed into federal
law on October 16. 1996, defnes "child abuse and neglect " 10 mean:
"serious physical or emotional harm ••• which results in "imminent risk
oJserious harm" (.S. Stat. 1 10: P.L. 1 04-235, Sec. 1 10).
In aditiont the revised CAPT A indicates that "recent acts should be
considered. such that events which took place a number of years ago are not
subject to investgaton. However, most states hae not revised state statutes to
comply with this federal legislation and child protective agencies continue to
operate with their own defnitions of chid abuse and neglect.
Child abuse and neglect las are so vage and imprecise that they alow state.
interention not only when a child has been clearly harmed but "also when
parents hae improper habits or attitudes" (Robin. 1991. p. 6). In some cases,
a spankng is defned as abuse (Scott, 1994, p. 29).
Defnitions of child abuse are ambigous and ma ver well be in violation of
C onstitutionaJl reqUirements. Questions of the constitutionalit of the
child abuse las themselves include whether such las are unconstttonal as
written andor unconsttnal as interpreted and ap lied Failure of child
protective las to meet Constittional guidelines results in violations of the
Constitutional rights o/persons subjected to those las.
In the past, states hae been deniedfderalfnding when they attempted
to defne reportable abuse as onl ''erious' abuse, although the most recent
fdral Child Abuse Prevention an Treatent Act will likeJy chnge this
limitation. For example. Pennlvania wa found inelgible for federal fnding
because of incluion of the word "seriou inur" (Kaliehman, 1995, p. 12).
Several authors (esharov, 1985; Prid, 1994; Wexler. 1995) hae noted that
child abuse is ofen consed with povert. Besharov frther notes that children
and families have many unmet social serice need for which the label "child
abuse and neglect" and Q child protectie response are inapropriate (. 40).
The denition of child abuse need to be claried. stattoril. Defnition
should be claried so that highly subjective application a/terinolog by il­
trained. over-worked child protection workers is greatl reduced The political
agend underlying "child protecton" eforts should be crtailed
physical evdence of abuse or neglect exst. In may cses of alleged se
molestaton. emotonal malteatet or neglect, no physica evdence is
present. Even in conditons i which physica abuse is alleged, medical fndings
ca be ms-dagosed (Kirsche ad Stin, 1985; Huit ad Castells, 1987).
Caes where no physical evdence of iju or abue is preset are te most
In several studies, approximately 40 t 7S% o/seuaJ abuse cles preent
wihout specic sigs o/malteatent (Ka/ichman, 1995; pp. 27).
At times. merely when children are conSidered "at risk." state interention takes
place (Scott. 1994; p. 54). Other situations in which children. such as a children
oj 12 years old, are lef unattendedfor ver brie/period of time. i.e .
minutes, have been considered neglected. In other cases, merely the chi/d's
"reaction" can be used as defnition of abuse (Kalichman. 1995; p. 25).
resulting in an even higher degree oj subjectvit in defning abuse.
Such situations which lack physical evidence hae been the subject of major
grandjur investigation (Hopkns, San Diego Count Grand Jur, 1991-92),
which concluded:
''In to many cases, Child Potecton Serices cannot ditnguih real
abuse fom fabricatn, abuse from neglect and neglect fom pover
or cultral dif erences. Each of these requires Q diferent response,
yet the cu"ent system all too fequentl fail to diferentt" (1991-92
San Diego Count Grand Jur Repor No.2; p. 4).
4. LACK OF "REASON" IN REPORTING: Legslaton wa lely wrten wit te
presupton tt caef ment healt prcttoners ad oter provder woud
use reasong i reporg ad woud screen before tey mae a chd abuse
reor. I prctce today, mental healt prcttones ae tught to repor
everg, assug tat te chd protective serce does te sceng. Many
prcttoners have never reviewed or stdied laws peaing to chld abue
reporg ad ae poory taied about reporg chd abuse.
Projssional training has only emphasized the importance of reporting but has
not established profssional gidelines for reporting abuse. Professional
workhops hae nOI adequately explored the issues of the relative intended
benefts for the child as well as the potential risk of false or frivolous reports.
Besharov (1991) provides an in-depth discssion of the problems with current
child abuse and neglect screening and interention poliCies, noting that las
which reqUire reporting of threatened harm "ad immeasurably 10 the
subjectivit o/reporting and investigator decisions" (. 41). He also notes that
child abuse reporters are expected to exercise "reasonable cause to suspect" or
"reasonable cause to believe" that abuse or neglect has taken place. This is "not
an open-ended invitation to report whenever one has a vage. amorphous. or
unspecied concern (. 44).
In child protective serice investigations, there is ofen little consideration of�
Iccientli means" which are the part of normal childhood development, i.e.,
activit brises9 sporting accidents, etc. Other accidental situations are
frequently considered to be abuse, without adequate investigation of the
circumstances (Kalich m an. 1995: pp. 29-32).
5. VARIATION IN MANDATED REPORTERS: Te persons who ae required to
repor abuse va fom state
o st
e, begnning wit medica personel, but
exadig rapidly to iclude a varety of profession goups= I additon to
social workers, tachers, a
met healt professionals, mdate
my iclude lawes, vsitng nuses, gdace couelors, religou healers,
p-hacists, ad commecia f developer (Kcman, 1995, pp. 23-24).
Under Okahoma la, personnel in the medical and nursingjeld, teachers,
and an other persons are reqUired to report suspected physical or sexual
abuse. or neglect. but an person ma report oJ abuse againt an other person.
Mandted reporting wa based 01 the presumpton that children cannot use the
protection of the la for themselves and therefore needed others to act for them.
It was also assumed that parents who maltreat children will not voluntarily
request serices and that endngered children wil not come to the attention oj
public agencies Without mandtor reporting (Hutchison, 1993, p. 57).
Hutchinson (1993) notes that nearly 30 years after the development and
implementation of these mandtory reportng las, there is little empircal
evidence to support the assumptons on which they were based In fact, some
evidence exists to invalidte at least some a/the assumptions (. 57). The
assumption that manted reporting wil lead to early detection and
prevention of serious inuries and/atalites is called into queston by data
ofthe costs and benefts 0/ the reporting las for chidren (. 58). Soon afer
the expansion o/reporing las. an assault onfderalfndingfor health and
welare serices began. CoerCive serices were increasing while voluntarily
ones were decreasing (Hutchinson, 1993, p. 61).
Mandted reporting las were also predicated on the assmption that child
maltreatent is a classless phenomenon¡ unrelated to issues o/income
distribution (Hutchison¡ 1993, p. 57). However, the assum
ton ofclassless ness
of abuse has been challenged by other authors (Pelton, 1989; Wexler, 1995).
Considerable evidence exists ofa strong relationshi
and child
abuse and neglecto Wexler (1995) provides ample elidence for the hypothesis
that. in perhaps the majorit ofcases, povert is confsed with neglect and that,
in those cases, the serices that are needed to solve the problem are not
counseling and parent education, but baby¯siting¡ da care, and other
supportive serices (p. 47-58).
Robin (1991) points out that the author of child abuse legislationa U/alter
Mondle, feared that the legislation would be blocked i il was viewed as a
povert program, or i the problem was conceived as being confned
predominantly to the poor (. 3). On this basis, Mondale and his associates
argued that child abuse was not a povert problem and argued in faor of a
"pschopathological model, in which theoreticaly the parent who abuses his or
her child sufers fom some pschological disease which must be cured in order
to prevent frther abuse" (. 3-4).
6. ANONMOUS REPORTING: Tere may not be ay substace to te repor of
alleged chld abuse. Ay stnger ca repor a oter person for ayg, wit
or witout basis. Aonyou reporng is perted uder stte laws, altoug
Oklaom law does not exlcity stte tat ayis gtd, altoug
imuty is cur enty assued to person reportg tli good fit.
Any unkown person can cal in a report of child abuse against a parent who
spank a child in a market or store for abuse. Whitehead (1985) reported the
folowing case:
'j mother was shopping in a store. Wile staning in the check-out
line, she refsed her three-year-old child's request for a cand bar. The
child threw a temper tantrm. The mother satted the child seeral
times on the behind. She paidfor the items she bought by check.
Shortly afer she arrived homet a social worker came to the house and
demanded to inspect the child/or possible mark and brises. The
charge was child abuse. The mother was reported to the welare
departent by the store clerk, who obtained her adress from the check"
(. 158).
The child protective serices will not release the name of the person making the
report, claiming confdentialit. and therefore determination of the source and
veracit 0/ the report is virtualy impossible. Policies allOWing anonymous
reporting has turned the United States into a nation o!"namelss,jaceless
accusers." Any person in the United Stales can be reported for suspected child
abuse. with or without substance. Anonymous reporting can be considered as a
"violation a/Constitutional rights." The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of
the United States allows us to ''ace'' i.e .. confont our accsers (Scott, 1994)
and "to be confronted with the witesses against him " (Commission on the
Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. p. 22). Child protective IOS
violate the "confontation clause" of the Sith Amendment.
The la in Okahoma (O. S. 7103 D.l. O.S. Supp/. 1995. p. 296) has recently
been changed 10 state that an person who kOWingl and Willlly makes a
false report (of child abuse) ma be reported by the Department of Human
Serices to local la enforcement for criminal investigation and upon
conviction thereof shall be gilt of a misdemeanor. However, profssionals
hae not been infored about the possibilit. nor has the public been infored
Fe i any cases offalse reports hae been forarded to law enforcement
(OK 10 Sec. 7105) sttes tat ay person-who repor whch suspected child
abue "i good ft ad exerising due cae" is gated imut nom a
Due process oj la also guarantees each United States citizen the right to take
legal action against an person, i.e., "to sue ay U.S. citizenjor 'unlafl
deprivation of any consttutional. statutor. or administrative right'" and "to use
the Constitution and case la as a defense" (Scott. 1994; p. 141), but current
child protective agenc policies disallow the identfcation of the persons
makng reports. The ratonaliation that child protective agencies give is that
the inormation is "confdential.
Immunit fom liabilit is required by Federal la. The immunit from liabilit
is also a violation of due process, since citizens are, by la, aforded the
opportunit to seek legal recourse against an person. Scot (1994) reported
that even when the San Diego Count Grand Jur attempted to investigate the
child protective serice, the Grand Jur was blockd The child protective
agenc claimed "confidentialit" and failed to cooperate with the Grand Jur
inquir. The jur concluded that "ti lack of coopeatn wi the Grand Jur
eemplies te mind-set in which (the chil protecte seice) operates.
Clsed couroom, confuentll jles, lnd ttal stattr imunit crelt ln
atde unbecoming 11 agency purpordl serig te bet itres of te
communit" (cited in Scott. J 994. p. 142).

Hopkns. who led the San Diego Count Grand Ju
investigations, commented
in her testimony to the United States House Subcommittee on Early Childhood.
Youth, and Families, that ''ar of the child protection sstem now infcts all o.l
American societ (. 2).
Hopknsfrther noted the aiom that:
"Power CO"Upt.
"Absolut power corrupt absolutel.
"Absolute immunit i absolute power" (. 2)
in theor, i might be possible, under the present la, to prove that the report
was made "in bad faith, II but the burden to prove bad fith would rest on the
defendnt to prove his/her innocence. In realit, attempting to prove "bad
faith" is Virtualy impossible, particularly in light of anonymous reporting,
condential jles, and closed court record.
8. FRIVOLOUS AND MALICIOUS REPORTIG: Ay person ca mae a repor
oft'suspected chld abuselt to te Depaent of Hu Serces, eiter for
legtte� mciou, or fvolous reasons.
in many cases, an angr spouse, fancee. or neighbor may make a report with
vengefl motives. In the "investigation" process. the possible motives of the
person making the allegaton or accusation are not inestigated and the
credibilit of the person who is makng the report is not evaluated. In some
cases, the person making the report has a histor of making false accusations
in other circumstances or has a histor o/psychiatric disturbance. yet those
Jacts are not considered.
The rate of unsubstantiated reports of abuse in child custod maters is
remarkbly high. A spouse or an ex-spouse who wants cstod has the "ultmate
weapon" to use to secre custod or to do dmage to that individual Statistics
indicate that the percentage of alegations of abuse which occur during child
custod disputes ranges from J 5% to 79%. (Call. 1994).
Only recently hoe las in Oklahoma included a possible fne of $5000 against
a parent who kOWingly makes Q false alegation of abuse during the process of
a divorce dispute. To dte, the penalt has not been implemented. A stud
reported by Giovannoni (1985) found that 16% o/the social workers
indicated that child maltreatment reports could not be validated because they
were "malicious." while 39% of the social workers said the most common reason
for lack o/ validtion was "lack of proof' (. 56). Limited child protective
serice resources are wasted and man persons' lives are destroyed in the
process of government intrsion into the lives o/children andfamilies. The
careless waste of child protective serice resources prevents those resources
from being directed to cases which realy need attention and interention.
healt practitoners ae tied about madated reorg� but not abou te rsks
of "knee-jerk" reporg, witout toughtf considerton. Rsks iclude
potental daage to the therpeutc relatonshpq liabilit risks, major rsks of
daage to fmilies where iterenton by te Stte is needess, ad rsks to te
autonomy of the chlde ad paets ivolved. Some labit rsks ae present
for metl heat professionals who reor supeted chd abue witout
sufcient considetono
Hutchison (1993) stated clearl that "investigation of a report of child
maltreatent is not an innocou intrsion into family lie" (. 60). By the time
that an investigation is complete, the family has had to cope with anieties
provoked by the investigative process. The report is not lkely to be expunged
from the mind of the family. In realit, the report will never be expnged fom
the family and the family will be irreparably harmed by state intrsion.
Besharov (1985) reported over 10 years ago thaI 500.000 fmilies were
investigated annua//yjr reports that are not substantiated. In J 990. Besharov
(1990) estimated that 700,OOO/amiUes in the United States underent
investigations of unfounded child abuse reports.
Since child maltreatent reports hae increased by at least 60 percent since
1985 and 25 percent since 1990, an estimated 900,000 fmilies could be
subjected to state intsion annual/y_ Another source inicated that 3000
familes are destroyed dily by state intrsion. Hagen (1997) documents the
huge expense to the goverment involved in investigation and prosecution of
these cases, which she has refrred to as Q child weIare "idust" (. 228).
One case, the McMartin preschool case in Caliornia cost the tapaers $15
million and si years to litgate, resulting in acquittals ofthe Buckeys on 52
counts of child abuse (agen, 1997; p. 232).
Families can be destroyed by false reporting (amily Research Council. 1994;
pp. 41-47). Considerable social stga is experienced by an person who is
accused of child abuse. with resulting Joss of reputation, social status, money,
or employment« A child abuse report is an explcit accusation ofthe parents'
ailure of their obligation to protect and nurture the child (Robin, 1985; p. 24).
Faler (1985) noted tht to be accused of child abuse can result in considerable
stress, loss
of confdence� fear of losing their children, and anger at those
perceived as being responsiblefor the report. According to Garnkle's (1956)
theor, a child abuse alegation is as much about a person's character and
moral status as it is about what the person might hae done (cited in Robin:
1985. p. 24).
Child protective agencies work as a "cult. " which 'requently destroys families
by separating parents fom children. thus breaking the family bonding,
subjecting them to terrorism. Kangaroo Courts, unjust trials, the use of biased
opinion rather than evidence, and crshing a!amily'sjnances" (ASVO. F
1997. p. 7). Families are needlessly dragged through court proceedings and
are subjected to fnncially� SOCialy, and pschologicaly devastating State
interention (abinowitz, 1997).
Mental health practitioners are not schooled adequately about the fact that the
therapeutic relationship is likely to be destroyed when an abuse report is fled,
i.e., the therapeutic relationship is replaced by Q "policing" relatonshi. The
ethical principle to respect clent autonomy is involved in any child abuse
reporting consideration (Haas and Malouf 1989).
Wile goodfaith immunit from liabilit is granted to profeSSionals who
report suspected child abuse, some successfl Ja suits hae been fled in
which profeSSionals have been sued because of 'ailure to inorm" their clients
that they would report suspected child abuse (elson, J 997).
A report of suspected child abuse or neglect can destroy man lves and
should not be made without thoughtl consideration of the risk of error on
both sides.
law says: "ay peson to kowingly and willfly fi to repor .... shall be glty
ofa msdemeanorlt (OK. 10 Sec. 7103. D.). I practce today, mentl heat
practitoners ad oter provders have a vaet of conceptultions of what
te penalty may be for non-reporng� felony, jail te� loss of licese.
Failure to report a suspected case of abuse is not a felony. not likly a pri
sentence crime. nor is the practitioner likely to lose his/her license. Intimidtion
0( profeSSionals with the prospect of loss of license spurs aditional reports,
made without tre "reason." Giovannoni (1985) reported that social workers
reported that agenc professionals sometimes make reports because they didn't
want to provide sericesfor a famity¡ or they reported indiscriminately just to
ensure they hae met their obligaton under the mandted reporting
11. CHILD ABUSE CENTRAL REGISTRY: Ay cal to te Depaent of Hua
Serces or Child Potective Serces ca ad is likely to result i a ent of the
"peretor" as a t'suspected chd abuser" ito te chd abuse regst. I
Forda, te nae remas on te regst for 7 yea. I Oklaoma, te law
sttes tat te nae wil rema on te regst ·'peraenty." I ote states
te leng of te tat te nae rems is SO yeas.
Most people do not kow that, on the basis of an accusaton a/one, their names
wil be entered in the child abuse registrq as i they had beenjoun to be gilt
of child abuse. Information contained in the "child abuse regist is assumed to
snonyous with gilt Or haing been conicted ofchild abuse. whereas that is
not in fact tre.
The entr of a persons' name into the child abuse registr has no connection
with a judicial procedure, so that the entr is made immediately. jar before any
judicial hearing is helds Even i a court acton taks place and the person is able
10 prove himsel or hersel to be "nol gilt, " his/her name remains on the
Other agencies, such as the burea o/inestigation, school sstem, da-care
facilitiesç police¡ etc. can access Child Abuse Central Registr information and
use it in makng deterination o/whether Q person should be granted a job or
be retained in a jobo The ent 0/a person's name in the child abuse registr
has resulted in numerous people beingfredfromjobs, to be excluded from an
occupation, and to lose a variet ofcivil liberties.
The mere entr of a person's name into a child abuse registr can be conSidered
legally slanderous and defaming ofcharacter, socialy stigatizingq and
pschologically devastating« The entr of an indiVidual s name into the child
abuse central registr in essence fnd the person gilt without an judicial
I '
"Child abuse registries" hae been challenged in several states and found
unconstitutional In Florid (CA 90-40069-MP)I a la suit fled by Jerr
and Karen Pitts sought dmages and injunctive relieffor Violations of due
process rights resulting fom the placement of their names in Florid's child
abuse registr. In a lasuit against Florida's child protection agency. the
Departent of Health and Rehabilitatve Serices, the Pitts, as plaintif s arged
against the DHR Secretar, Koler. The Pitts' lasuit aleged that Koler was
personally responsible for entr of the Pitts' name in the child abuse registr
failure to remove their name. Koler used a "qualied immunit defense. "
In hearing this case, the Florid Court found the child abuse registr to be
'racially unconsttnal" since it
oes not prOVide the procedural safeguar
or due process andfound that Kaler "kew or should hae kown that his
actions would violate the constittiona (so that) qualie
immunit is defeated
and personal liabilit attaches. "
The case was setled out of courtq with the State paing $70,000 to the persons
afected by the wrongl
ecisions» The Ofce of the Attore General of
Flord issued an alert indicating that the Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Serices cannot "hide behind its veil of statutor confdentialit
(Appellate Alert, March 22, 1994). Confdentialit was referred to by the
First District Court of Appeals as ''atently ilusor. "
In Virginia, the process 01 keeping dat against people accused of child abuse
without cases ever haing been proven has been deterined unlafl by the
Virginia Court of Appeals (Hsu, 1995). Specically, the practice of listing
"reason to suspect" cases was deterined to be unlaul. As a result, 2830
complaints, involving 4108 children were scheduled to be destroyedfrom that
central regist sstem.
The Central Registr has recently been chalenged in several states an has
been found to be unconstitutional, on the basis of the fact that there is no way
to remove one's name, the presence of a persons name is stigmatizing. and
names are entered even when no child abuse was sbstantiated States which
retain names indefnitel may become liable.
12. CORPORL PUNISHMENT MISCONSTRUED: Paents who exercise even
md cororal pushent� pacualy if they do so i public, ae lely to be
repored for suspected chd abue.
Across the United Slates, parents generally have the legal right to discipline
their children by using reasonable corporal punishment (Rutherord Institute.
Legal Brief on Parental Rights: Corporal Punishment, 1994). This rightq
however, is not absolute and ma be subject to scrtin and restriction by the .
statee The limits of the parental privilege to use corporal punishment cannot be
easily defnedo
Twent-nine slates, including Oklahoma. continue to recogize
the common la rle of parental privilege. Okahoma la (Oklahoma Stattes
Annotated 12 Sec. 643(4) 1994) indicates that parents ma use corporal
punishmentq i.e., that spankng is alowed. According to the Rutherord Intitte,
in general juries do not fnd (arental use of corporal punishment to be
excessive where the parent spank a child/or discilnar reasons (. 2).
However, the unritten "la" oj the child protectve serice or Deparent of
Human Serices (DHS) considers spankng to be child abuse. DHS social
workrs ma make a deterination of "child abuse, " when actually only
reasonable discipline was being eercised. Many of the personnel workng in
child protective serices impose their own defnition of spankng as child abuse
onto their clients' lives. Robin (1991) identied "investigators who pursue an
agen" as the frst of Q list of Jactors which ma lead to errors in child abuse
investigations (. 18).
13. WARRANTLESS SEARCHES: Socia workers ofen go to te homes of pesons
who hve been repored for suspected chld abuse ad demad ent to te
home. Tey aso demad to t to oter chlden i te home. I some
instces� te social worker obtis a police escor, requg tt polce
accompay te ad suppor tei deterations.
The entr into the home contitutes a "warrantless search," since no search
warrant has been obtained to search the home. to interiew the people in the
home. or to inspect the condition of the home. In man cases, the parents are
pressured to allow social workers to interiew all of the children, not just the
child or children about whom a report of suspected abuse ;s made. The social
workrs ma strip search the child or children, not coMsidering the trauma that
this causes to the child and in utter disregard for the rights ofthe parents to
oversee and protect their children. I a person declines admission 10 the social
workr, that person is thought to be "hiding something" which is assumed to
be proof ofgilt. Scot (1994; pp. 1 37-141) discsses illegal search and seizure.
This warrantless searching constitutes violation o/Constitutional rights, i. e. ,
the Four Amendment right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers_
and efct (Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution,
p. 22).
Warrantless searches hae been the topiC oflegal controvers, reaching all the
wa to the Supreme Court. Much ofthe discssion hasfocused on the
"instrmentalities, " or evidence ofcrime (afae, 1972. p. 20). The same
author notes that "the right to be secure in the privac ofone's home against
arbitrar governmental intrsions lies 'at the core o/the Fourth Amendment'
and 'is basic to a fee societ'" (. 28).
Social workrs are legally not alowed to take the child into custod, but they
. ofen do so. In other Situations, the social worker(s) wil request that a police
ofcer accompany them to the home and the social worker wil order that the
police or la enforcement ofcer to take the child "into protective custod. "
immediately the parents are presumed to be guilt and are ofen threatened,
coerced and intimidted Parental rights are essentially terminated by social
workrs, who wil not alow parents to be present for interiews and
examinations, who will not Jet parents kow the outcome ofthose interiews.
and who will also not tel parents where their children are being taken or who
will be in charge ofcaring for their children.
One mother commented that, when the social worker lefwith her child, the
mother did not hae a business cardfor the social workr. a telephone number
ofa sperisor to contact about her son, an appointment for frther interiews.
or any documentation o/where her son was to be taken. Yet te had her Ion!
Wen questions are askd ojsocial workers regarding their method of
operation, they point the fnger at the police department or la enorcement.
When persons in la enforcement are questioned, they point the fnger at the
child protective serice social workers. Testimon
to the efect that social
workers request that la enforcement go with them and askfor entr into a
home, if the social workers are not allowed to see the children was ofered in the
Calabreta v. Floyd and others case (CIV S-95-0345 LKK). In ariving at the
legal decision, the court cited Supreme Courtjndings that the standrd of
reasonableness governing an class ofsearches requires "balancing the need to
search against the invasion which the search entails" (. 27). The court
determined that whether the social workers and police ofcers "intentionally
and perasively coerced entr i1to the home during child abuse investigations
in violation ofFourth Amendment " rights was Q triable issue (. 37).
practice for child protectve sece has been to "te the chd ito protectve
custody q witout caef investgaton ad witout weigng te tu tt
fse-removal ca caue to te cbd. as well as to te paents. Te child is
routnely removed fom te paetst cutody, witout a judcial heg before
a petton of abue h be fed, ad witou due process of law .
Chden ae not al owed to contct teir paets o ay oter fily member. No
notce is gven to te paents. Te chlde ae fst placed i a yout shelter ad
ten ae moved to foste ce. Te chd my go tou a sees of foster cae
The aiom 10 "err on the side ofcaution" assumes that removing the child/rom
the home ofhis ofher parent is the most catious action. Child protective
agenc policy states that they " err on the side ofcation, " which mean "to yank
the child out o/the home" (Scot, 1994. p. 101). Such action/ails to consider
that children are 10 times more likly to be inured in/oster care than in their
own biological home. The kee-erk removal of the child does not conider the
emotional trauma to the childa the fnanCial cost oflegal involvement. the social
cost to the family and to societ. Children emotionlly eperience the removal
as "kidnapping. "
Little or no concern is given to the negatie impact that being removed/rom the
home has on the child In most cases, the child ;s given no inormaton about
the reason/or being removed. is not alowed to hve contact with his 07 her
parents and ma be traumatized by removal from his or her home. From the
standpoint ofthe child the removal by strangers who wil not allow the child
10 contact his/her parents is akn to kdnapping. No regard is shown/or
" children's rights" 0/consortium with their families. When an adlt is arrested
andjailed. he/she has the right to contact!amily or an Qttorey. When adult
mental health patents are hospitalized involuntarily, their rights to contact
family members are protected Children's rights, when they are seized by DRS.
hae no protection whatsoever. The sstem which supposedly is established to
protect children does not accomplish its major goal.
During this time, the child ma be shiedfrom one Joster home to another, then
placed in institutional settngs. The child may be interiewed countless times
about the abuset forced to attend endless coercive therapy sessions for being
abused, forced to talk about abuse which likely did not occur. The child ma
also be interiew numerous times by a variet of people, from social workers, to
therapists, to district attoreys, to doctors.
The child ma react to the trauma ofbeing removed with a variet of
smptoms, t i. e. , sleep difcult. regression to bed- wetting. cring, nightmares.
etc. The sstem-induced smptoms oftrauma to the child then are interpreted as
further evidence ofabuse The child is ofen "medicated" for a pschiatric
diagosis, such as aniet disorder. dpression, attention defcit disorder. or
post traumatic stress disorder. The child is, in fact. medicated for a condition
which was caused by the State's il-ounded interention.
The sstem actually produces "iatrogenic" harm. Another medical term which
has been used to described the har which is actualy produced by the DRS
sstem is "nosocomil
abuse. where in fact the sstem which was intended to
protect the child fom abuse produces the abuse (San Diego Count Grand
Jur, Report No. 8. 1992: p. 19). Child protective sstem workers generaly
ignore the fact that ever child is traumatized by separation from his parents,
and such action should only occur i a child is in clear and evident dnger
(ScOtlt 1994, p. 102). Families are destroyed and can never be the same again.
Children are traumatized by this seizure and are not told where they will be
taken. They are not alowed to contact their parents. Adults who are
involuntarily detained hae legal rights to contact legal representation and to
hae contact with family, but children are denied these legal rights and are
alowed no communication with their families whatsoever. The rationalization is
given by the child protective agency that they are ''rotecting'' the children , but
in the process the child is subjected to "nosocomial abuse. " or abuse from the
sstem which was set up to protect them (San Diego Count Grand Jur,
Report No. 8. 1992, p. 1 9).
The iniscriminate removal ofchildren burdens the foster care sstem. results
exaggerated claims ofthe problem magnitude, and huge government
Meanhile, the child has been seized without court order or due process of
la. A social worker or la enforcement ofcer cannot come to your home and
take possession ofyour car or your stereo. But they can come to your home
and take possession of your child.
protecve serce ofen seie te chd fom te school, not notfg te paents
that te chld is being taken. Chdren ae ofen seized at school, wit no
knowledge of whee tey ae beig tken. Paents ae not notfed by te chd
protecve agency or by te school tt te chd has been seied.
Wen the parent(s) come to get the child at the end of the school d, they hae
no ida where the child is or where the child ha been taken. Wen parents
mak phone calls to the police or to child protectve serice, they are denied
an inoration about where the child has been taken. Sometimes it is several
das before phone calls are returned to parents from child protective serice
social workers to noti the parent(s) that the child has been taken.
Parental rights are efectively terinated without legal process, Since the
parents are denied their rights to kow wht the chid has stated (ofen under
duress or during improper interiewing, where the child has been taken, who
is responible for the care of the child what the condition of the child is,
when the child will be retred
RIGHTS: Statements ae ten fom chldren or fom oter peron, witout
tem beig ifoned or kowledgeable tat tei stateent wil become pa of
judicial procedues. Paents are not iored tat tei chdren ae beig
interewed, whch ofe tes place i schools or day-cae setgs. Paent ae
questoned i quasi-legal ivestgatons, but tey ae not iored oftei
rgts. On te conta, tey ae msled by social worker who teU paents tt
te child protectve agency "wat to help.
î f
Interiewing children without secring parental consent is a violation o/both
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terminated by social workers and teachers at this point, since they are denied
access 10 inormation which their children hae reported, they are not allowed �
to talk with persons who hae interiewed their children, and they are not
alowed to appoint an attorney for the child. No legal process has taken place to
deny the parents access to their children or to the record/inforation
pertaining to their children.
When parents are interiewed, they are not given their Mirand Rights. But the
Justicaton is made that parents do not need to be infored oftheir Mirand
Rights, because they hae never been charged with anthing. However, i
parents are not informed that statements that they make can be used against
them in a court ofla, that they hae the right to an attorney, or that they can
refse to anser the questions which are posed to them.
Situatons hae taken place in which people were told that they should come to
DBS to give inoration on employment and insurance, but when the arrived
police ofcers were waiting to arrest them. Man people are misled by
statements that the Departent of Human Serices "wants to help. " Parents are
discouraged/rom exercising their legal rights by social workers who tell them
that they "do not need an attorey. " Several other sources presently adise
parents that they should retain an attomey and should refse to talk with social
workrs without the attorney present (ASVO, 1996; Whitehead 1985). The
entire child protective sstem operates as a quasi-legal sstem, operating
outside ofthe la (Scott, 1994; p. 142).
11 a few cases, the parent(s) will consult an attorney, but these are the rare
exceptions. In many cases, the persons accused hae limitedfinancial
resources and do not understand how DHS work. They are appaled at the
fact that DRS can operate outside of the la.
When a child abue repor is made most ofen the paen ae considered to be
responible. By considerng te mater a juvee mater, no chges ae mde
agait te paents diectly. Te chld is seized ad te i so-caled
"protectve custody.

However, parents are implicitly accused of child abuse and will later be held to
anser for the crime of child abuse, but no charges are fled against them, in
frther violation of due process. In juvenile courts, parents are "held to
anser"for the infamous crime of child abuse, but are never charged.
The fact that parents are "held to anner" required to defend themselves for
such a heinous crime is a violaton o/Fi Amendment Consttonal right�
Judges rationalize that the parents hae "due process, " by indicating that the
parent ma hae a jur trial, but in fact there has been no charge made against
the parent to be tried. Parent(s) are never formaly charged with the crime of
child abuse, neer sered with a subpoena, never formaly notied oftheir legal
rightsq not allowed to face accusers, not alowed to cross-examine the witnesses
against them, not alloed to eam documents pertaining to the innocence or
gilt o/the parents. not allowed in court to admit defnse evidence, yet they are
"held to anser"!or a charge which has never been made.
Attorneys who attempt to defend parents are barred from presenting a case,
due to the fact that the Departent ofHuman Serices wil not allow the
defense attorney access the child to the interiew notest to the social workrs
or other persons who did the interiewing, to medical record or to an other
inforation which might be helpfl to dfend the client. ,
Social workrs claim that the inforation they hae is "confdential, "judges
support the stone-walling ofdfense attempts. and efectvely their parental
rights are terminated. An personq including the parent, the parent's atorey.
the legislatie representative ofthe parent, even the Governor ofthe State, are
denied access to any record maintained by DHS. while DHS claims that its
fles are confdentala At times, even the director ofthe Departent ofHuman
Serices has been denied access to record.
The parents ma be accsed ofchild abuse or neglect without ever hing been
interieeds They are not inored that the should he an attorey present.
Rather than being told that they have the right to hve an attomey present, they
are ofen told that they do not need a attorey.
1 8. IMPROPER INTERVIEWING: Chden ca be itrewed nuerous tes,
by a vaet of person includg tache, school couselor, socia workers3
polce ofcers, sherf, dstct atoreys, judges, etc. Tee ae icidents i
whch chidren have ben coerced ito mg a al egaton agait thei
paents, whch varous brbes, deceptons, coecion, ad reiorcements being
ofered, eiter kowingy or uowigy, by te iteriews.
Social science research reveals that repealed interieing rns the risk of
infuencing the child, suggesting inforation to the child about events which
did not take placeq and traumatizing the child. Through repeated interiewing.
children can actualy learn what the interiewing adults want them to sa
(dms, 1995; Cec; and Brck, 1995). Among the improper interiewing
methodologies which are routinely used in suspected child abuse cases are
repeated, biased, sg este, ladig and coercive methods. Such methods
hae been identied in many ofthe famous d-care center cases. ma ny of
which are being over-turned. However, the ta-paer costfor prosecution o.f
these cases has been in the milions. Innocent people hae been incarcerated
for years in these cases (see Ceci and Brck. 1995).
Improper interiewing methodologies produce inaccrate results; interiewers
can inadertently mold an allegation ofabuse where none occurred: children
are traumatized by improper inteMieing; entire families are destroyed in the
process. Improper method of"investigation" result in the accused person being
efctvelyfound "gilt" without any legal action being takn.
Any person who interiews a child, whether it is a teacher. counselor, parent,
fiend can contaminate the inforation obtainedfrom the child. People are
not inored about the liklihood ofcontamination from improper questioning
ofchildren. Professionals are not properly trained in interiewing method and
some interies themselves become ''schologicaly abuive. "
In one cae recentl. I social worke inte"ogated I J.year olfor 2 hours
wi no breaks, untl the child WIS huddlng i te comer, whimpering, and
s"cking on her fnger tps. Te socil worker concluded tat the chil was
ehibitng regesswe behaior tat was indiate ofseal abuse by her
fate. Te real abuse clme It te hands olte socil worker conductng te
inte"oglton and te bit er e-wie who watched te process trough a to­
way mi"or.
19. BIASED INTERVIEWING: Most "ivestgators" i te feld of chd abuse
alegation have bee ted tat "chdren neve le, " despite te moutg
evdence tt te rate of flse repors ranges perhaps as hg as 80%.
Ifthe interieer approaches the interiew with the a priori notion that abuse
has occrred. then that interiewer is not an objective interiewer. Interiews
conducted by persons who hae a distinct conrator bias look only for
evidence to confr their a priori notion (Ceci and Brck. 1995). Social science
literature shows that when interiewers hae preconceied ideas they
sstematicaly ignore al evidence which would not confrm their a priori
idea and accept only those statements and behaiors which will confrm their

previous ideas. They also are lkely to interpret inÅignicant or neutral behaior
as indicative ofabuse. The efects ofthis confrmator bias hae been
documented in social science lterature«
Similar fndings o/inveÅtigator bias were noted in the San Diego Count Grand
Jur investigationsç which noted that social workers and therapists assumed that
the father was gilt ofmolestationq ignoring other evidence that would hae
exonerated the father and identied another part (San Diego Count Grand
Jur. Report No. 6, 1992, pp= 9-1 1). An epert in the Alicia W case testied that
"the child's therapist is only focusing on the father as the perpetrator not
alowing the child to 'really tell the stor'" (. 18).
Overealous interiewers (Gardner, 1991) approach the interieing with the
objective ofvalidting the abuse. not as neutral fact¯gatherersq " implying that
they are merel there to 'validate' what everbod kows happened anya" (.
48). Garder states that many of the person who are investigating child abuse,
partcularly child seual abue cases, are "ill-qulied and incompetent people"
who are "tained by others of questionable qualication" (. 47). Garder
indicates that no matter how preposterouÅ the allegation, no matter how absurd
these examiners wil believe them. A complete discussion of"validtors"jlls
numerous pages (p. 45-9).
The social .cience literature is beginning to epose the highly improper
investigative techniques and interiewing methodologies, with numerous cases
being over-tured and c
arges dropped (Ceci and Brck, 1995; Hagen, 1997).
Unfortunately¡ ofen the parents hae spent years injail or prison, hae spent
tens ofthousand of dolars in legal fes, and hae eperienced irreparable
harm in their lives. One case in Calioria cost the State $15 million to tr, with
the result that all ofthe defendnts were acquitted (Hagen, 1997).
20. TAINTED HEARSAY TESTIMONY: Professionas ae uted about te
dagers to teir heasay testiony if tey do not iterew propely, do not
record teir iterews, ad do not have a mechaca reproducton of al
iteriewso Most sttes do not have a re
uremet tat audio or vdeotpe
records of iterews shoud be made of al iterews ad some sttes have
ordered tat no mechaca record be made to presee te Depaent of
Hua Serce's iterest, not te chd's best iterest.
Some social science literature and legal literature indicates that i interiews

are not recorded they should be presumed to be inaccurate, since the
interieers questioning. notes, and memor hae all been shown to lack
accuracy (dms. 1996: McGough, 1995).
Under current la. mental health professionals including social workers are
allowed to provide hearsay testimony, provided that their testimony has
particularized garantees oftrstorthiness. There is mounting social science
and legal evidence that social workers' and mental health professionals'
testimon lack the partcularized garantees of trstorthiness and therefore
should not be admissible.
When interiews are not conducted properly, they can become the basis of
tainted hearsa (dms, 1996). According to McGough (1995), the hearsa
testimon o/mental health experts. social workers, doctors, and others is
subject to the four dngers of
ambigit: the dnger that the meaning intended by the declarant (i. e . . ,
the child will be misinterpreted by the (mental health) witess
fault memor: the dnger that the (mental health) declarant will simply
forget key material
misperception: the dnger that the (mental health) declarant misjudged,
misinterpreted, or misnderstood what he or she heard (or sa)
lack of candor: the danger that the (mental health) declarant wil
conSCiously lie (. 374-375).
A more complete discussion ofthe dngers ofinaccurac in mental health
experts' and social workers' hearsa testimon has been published by this
author (dms, 1996). Although the consideration that social workers would
conscientious lie is frightening indeed, such instances are kown to exist!
Cases hae been kown where a physician who had never examined a child,
not seen pictures ofthe child. and not even reviewed a diagram ofthe child's
appearance was alowed to in court give his opinion to a social worker, who
then in tur was allowed to testi under hearsa exceptions.
Wen interiewing method are improper and testimony is inaccurate. then
the hearsa exceptions which are alowedfor mental health profeSSionals
should not apply, i. e. , the hearsa lack the particularized guarantees of
trustworthiness. Ironically I in some cases prosecution hearsa is allowed into
cour, as admissible, but defense hearsa is barred (San Diego Count Grana
Jur, Report No. 6, 1992, p. 35). The practice ofadmiting prosecution hearsay
while disalowing defene hearsa is far more widespread than an judicial
oversight committee should allow.
At least three authors hae documented the motivation o/monetar gain/or
social workers and other investigators ofallegatons ofchild sexual abuse
(Dason, 1996; Gardner, 1991. p. 87-88; Hagenq 1997, pp. 215-21 6).
While Okahoma does not include "taint hearings" in the judicial process, other
states do. These "taint hearings" are intended 10 deterine i the evidence or
testimony is tainted prior to that testimony being admitted in a court ofla. In
Oklahoma, the closest approximaton ofa "taint hearing" is an ''llen hearing. "
In the ftre, taint or Allen hearings need to be held more ofen to deterine i
hearsa testimon is admissible.
worer ae place i te role of investgators, but te ae poorly ted� over­
worked, unfored ad sometes non-objectve. Te have not been tained,
a police ofce ad ivestgators ae tned, to completely docuent
fdngs, to presere evdence, ad to respect lega rigts.
In adition to the improper interieing method which are used to etract or
elicit so-called "testimon"fom children, inestigation which are supposedy
conducted by child protection workers are falt. In man cases, they lack
thoroughness, are conducted by poorly trained personnel, who at the same time
cannot devote sfcient time to the inestigations. Such investigators ofen
approach child abuse allegations with I prr decision that abuse has
occurred, rather than being neutral investigators.
Investigation methods hae been questoned by several authors (Gardner. 1 991;
Hagen. 1997; eeci and Brck, 1995). In the process ofconductng the
"inestigation" improper interiewing method actally destroys the eVidence.
i. e o• the testimony ofthe child making deterination o/what really occrred
virtualy impossible (dms, 1996). Among the common errorsfound in child
abuse investigations, summarized by Robin (1991. p. 18) were the/ollowing:
1. Investigators who pursue an agend.
2. Failure to obtain an adequate pscho-social and pscho-sexual histor
ofthe child and the/amily.
3. Failure to interiew all ofthose involved in the allegation.
- 4. Failure to inquire aboutfamily attitudes and practices regarding
privacy, nudit, and sexualit.
5. Misinterpretation o/medica/fndings.
6. InadequatL time spent with the child and too many prolonged
interrogations ofthe child.
7. The use ofbiased. either/or. coercive, repetitive, or age inappropriate
8. Interiewing techniques that introduce leading or educational
. Dif erential reinforcement ofthe child's responses in an interiew.
J O. Selective reinorcement ofthe child's behavior.
1 1. Failure to understand the nature of the alegations.
By-tn-large, investigators of suspected child abuse cases hold the unarranted
assumption that "chidren neer li" about whether they have been abused. That
assumptn i unwaranted and a sizable bod of scientic literatre reveals
that children can prodce inaccurate inormation under a variet ofconditions
(dms. 19
5). Adolescents hae leared quickly that they can alege that a
parent who tries to discipline them is abusing them and secure transer either
into state custod or to the non . disciplining parent. They hae found that the
can manipulate the sstem to get what they want, such as going to lie with a
parent who is la in discipline, lets teenagers actively engage in sex, do drgs,
and hae no responsibilit.
A distinct "conrmator bis" has been identied in the inestigative method
used in suspected child abuse cases, such that no other hypotheses are
considered other than the hypothesis that abuse occurred and dta which would
support other hypotheses is discounted and igored
At the same time. investigators of suspected child abuse cases ofen subject
children to repeated leading and even coercive questioning, which can not only
traumatize the child, but produce inaccurate results. Howevert social workers
with litle training in interiewing method are allowed to conduct interiews.
testi in court with expanded hearsay rlings. and to, in essence. convict an
accused person with testimon which was improperly obtained.
In adition. interiewers rely on unproven method of investigation, i. e. .
hypnosis age-regression, anatomical dollsl draings, and projective techniques
without understanding the limitations a/these method and their partcular
risk with children o/various age groups.
Record ofthe results ofinteriews hae been substantialy questioned as
well, with a major lasuit against the child protective agenc in Texas alleging.
among other things, investigatie impropriet andfalsication o/record
(Dason, 1996; McGough, 1995). Several states are now passing legislation
requiring videotaping ofall interiews with children and imposing possible
penalties on social workers who fail to flll investgatve duties properly
(ASVO. 1997, p. l). Wile afew statest i. e. , Texas. Caliomia, are moving
toward videotaping ofall interies with children. the vast majorit ofstates do
not hae sch legislative or polic requirements for documentation of
Recent eforts at team investgation hae been an improvement, hut the
questions ofconfrator bias, conict 0/interest, an lack ofproper
documentation he not been asered
Dug te investgaton of a alegton of abue, atou te presupton of
glt is made, iterews wit vaou persons a conducted. I most cases, te
mother, refered to as the "non-ofendig paet," ad te chd ae iterewed.
In some cases; te chd protectve socia worker iterews te fte, who is
refered to as te "ofendig paet
or "peetator. " However, in a f nuber
of cases te fte is not iterewed ad hs poit of vew is neve consideed.
The San Diego Count Gran Jur (Report No. 8, J 992 pp. J -3) reported that,
particularly in aleged child molestation cases, i the accused person asserts
that he (or she, but most ofen he) is innocence, that assertion ;s interpreted as
"denial" and is, ironicaly. taken as evidence ofgilt. Hopkn, Chairperson of
the San Diego Count Grand Jur stated that:
"unlike an other area ofour judicial sstem, in Juenile Court the
aleged perpetrator olin-house molest does not have to be proven guilt
in order to achieve a tre fnding . . . . Once the sstem musters sufCient
cause 10 suspect molest, the child becomes a ward o/the sstem and the
family is forced to comply wit its dictates or suf er the Joss ofthe child"
(. 2).
A tue fnding is, ofcourse, a conclusion that child molestation did occur. The �
loss ofthe child to which Hopkns referred is the permanent /ass ofthe child,
when parental rights are terminated and the child is placed up for adoption.
Hopkins frther explains that "i the father denies (that he molested the child)
and a tre fnding is made, he sufers the ultmate Catch 22- he can either admit
(that he molested the child, even ihe didnt) and ,ake a chance that the (child
protection) departent wil alow him to begin reunication with his family or
he can (continue be trthful and) deny and no reunication will occur (. 2).
But the iron. documented in the San Diego Count Grand Jur (eport No. 8,
1992. p. 2) does not end there. I the spouse spports her husband's assertion of
innocence1 i. e. t denial. she is charged with "accommodting his denial. " It is
reasoned then that i she accommodates this aleged denial, she cannot be
trsted to protect the child and she too can not be alowed to reuni with the
chid. Even when the mother believes the molest occurred and wants to protect
the child, a current asserton fom child abuse workrs is that the mother must
hae kown all along and failed to protect the child. Tht then becomes
supposed reason to remove the childfrom the mother. In Okahoma. mothers
ofchildren aleged to hae been abused are routnely intimidated by social
workrs, who threaten the mothers with "failure to protect. " In some casest
the mother is told that she must never see the father again or must divorce the
father, in order to retain cstod of her child. In some cases, the mother is lold
that i she wil divorce the father, the child will be retured immediately.
The San Diego Count Grand Jur (Report No. 8, p. 2) also noted that, stil
worse. i the child denies that molestation has taken place, this can be seen as
part o/the "child abuse accommodtion sndrome" and an aditional reason
why the child should have not contact with the parents. The child ma be
diagosed as multi-phasic, dissociative, Dr " in denial, " providing a pseudo­
explanation ofwhy the child cannot remember the abuse, which has not
occurred in the frst place. However, the "child abuse accommodtion
sndrome" is coming under professional criticism.
Thus, al of the members of the family can den a molest alegation and, in each
instance, the sstem uses the denial a/gilt as evidence of gilt (. 3).
In recent years, legal chalenges hae been raised with regard to requiring
defendnts to admit guilt. The Montana Court (State of Montana v. Imla, 1991)
reviewed an earlier case, in which c01fessing to a crime, which one did not
in [ct commit. is actualy pelur. In this case, while an accused person's

assertion ofinnocence ma be interpreted as denialt the person who did nol
commit the crime o/molestation must either trthflly assert innocence or
commit perur by admission. in other word, i the person did not molest the
child and regardess ofCircmstances, said that he did molest the child, he
would be committing perur.
Many persons who are falsely accused 0/abuse strongly adhere to their
convictions ofinnocence, on general principle, or on the principle that they
must be role modelsjor their children oj"telling the trth. " Fe persons
accused ofchild abuse hae the presence ofmind during the accusation trauma
to consider the legal ramications.
U sing the rtionaliton or jutfcaton that te chid is being protcted, te
chd is held in Stte custody for a uspecifed lenh of�e. Afer a shor
tme i a shelter, te chd is lely placed i' foster cae. A nube of fostr
cae placemet my be made, whle paets ae drgged toug exensive
lega processes.
The child is held by the State and the parents are coerced into doing whatever
the State wants, in an attempt to get the child retured to them. In court
proceedings, parents are "blackailed" into stiulating to the charges against
them, because the State has their child. The rationalizaton is made that the
parents hae a choice about whether to stiplate to the charges and that
parents' de process rights are not violated because they hae the right to a jur
trial. The right to a jur trial is not the only due process right that should be
considred in this matter (Scott, J 995). Most parents are told by their attorey,
i they are fortunate enough to have one, that they should "ust do whatever the
State wants you to do. " Most parents d stiplate to the charges, which then is
counted statistically as a conviction and which/urther infates alread
inaccurate statistcs.
While local laers ma be reluctant to ofer inpt, nationally some eVidence
ofthe manner in which defense attorneys handle child abuse and molestation
cases. The San Diego GrandJur (Report No. 8. 1992) reported that numerous
defense attorneys testied that the alow and even encourage their clients to
plea to a minor charge even when they are uncertain o/the client's innocence.
in order to jacilitate the reunication ofthe famil and to aoid a trial. Defense
attorneys feel that it is in the client's best interest to aoid a trial because of
public sentiment about alegations ofmolest (. 12). The investigation ofchild
abuse cases, the legal handling ofsuch cases is "big business"for attorneys and
mental health practitioners« Hagen (1997) estimates the cost ofsuch cases as
about $13 bilion annually. Many mental health practitioners fnd child abuse
cases to provide a ver lucrative business«
Some unfortunate persons who have chosen to go to jur tial hae been
convicted of anhere from 20 to 120 years in prison for an crime which did
not tak place.
24. WHEELS OF INJSTICE SET IN MOTION: Afer te chd has been i stte
custody for a perod rgi fom 24 hous to about 72 hous, a judicia "show
causelt beg is held i whch te chd is adjudicated a "neglected ad
derved" ad now is legaly i Stte Cutody_ However, there hve been cases
when no t'show cause" heag was held, but te chd was held i Stte custody
for aost to yea.
in many cases. parents are not informed that a hearing about the cstody of
their child wil be held or they are told by social workers that this isjust a
formalit that the parents "don't hae to be there. " The failure to provide
inormaton to parents about the nature of the hearing ;S Q procedural due
process violation.
Parents who ofen do not understand the legal process in which they are
presently involved are ofen told by social workers that 'you don't need an
anorne. " whereas they should be informed of their right to hae an attorney
present. Parental rights are efectively terminated, although no judicial hearing
to that efect has been held. The parents hae no right to see the child. have no
access 10 information, no right to decide about medical care. However, parental
duties and obligations are still imposedq i. e. t parents ma be "orced" to pa for
medical care for the child. From the point that the child is interiewed. through
al procedures, the parent is denied any right to kow what the child has said,
who has interiewed the child, what questions have been askd ofthe child.
how the child has been treated, or whether or nat the child is being physicaly
The parents are not alowed access to medical record, to hospital reports, to
pictures, nor to any other information pertaining to the child. The parent is
also not informed when the child is taken into custod, where the child is taken.
where the child will be housed or hospitalized, who is responsible for the care
ofthe child, or any other pertinent information about his/her child. The family
has no right to see the child. has no access to information. no right to decide
about medical care. Parents are, however. ofen biledfor state-secured
medical care and some "counseling" and ma also be assessed child support.
The legal process ma drag on for years. salowing up valuable months of
the child's li and ofen dmaging the parent-child relationship beyond repair.
The cost is, minimally. thousand ofdolars. Families who do not hae these
kind offnancial resources are treated most unjustly. Those who are ignorant
o/the sstem are caught up in itfor years. Reviews are set about ever 6
months. a disproportionately long time in the lie ofa 2 or . year old child.
Recently, in Teas, the child protective agenc, called the Protective and
Reglator Serices (PR faced numerous changes as a reslt ofa "sunset
review. " Among the changes which are forthcoming as ofSeptember 1, 1997,
the immunit ofPR departent employees is waived when
J) they commit or atempt 10 commit perur
2) they fabricate or attempt to fabricate evidence
3) they knowingl conceal or intentionally withhold information that
would establish that the accused did not commit child abuse, or
4) they violate stale or fderal la in the inestgation or prosecution of
a child abuse suit (ASVO, 1997, June. p. 1-2).
The San Diego Count Grand Jur (Report No. 8, 1992) reported that the
prosecuting District Attomey deterined that evidence that would exonerate
the father was irrelevant and refsed to take an action (. 12). More states
need to follow the lead o/Texas and Calioria in legislation. polic, and
judicial proceedings ofchild abue cases. Rather than giving child protectve
serices more power. that power needs to be statutorily checkd by legislation
which limits the authorit given to social workers.
At ti po
nt ""Y ch
ld protectn 'orker cln come ito your home
lnd take your chil No governor, senator, or representte cln do tlt
Furtermore, I child protecton worker cln seie your chid, te Plr ofyour
lie which i most precious to you, but cannot see your stereo!!
DETERMINATION: Te stdad of practce has been to refer te chld, who
was alegedly abused, to therapy imediately afer he/she has been seied by
te State and taken ito custody.
Little consideration is given to the fact that the child may not be abused and
may not need therap. that subjecting the child to so-caJled therapyfor sexually
abused children could be traumatizing to the child, or that therapy or
counseling ma contaminate any evidence that the child ma be able to provide
in a court ofla.
The San Diego Count GrandJur (Report No. 8. 1992) reported the case of
Alicia w, who was seen in therap tice a weekfr over a year prior to the _
case being heard in court, with a therapist who believed that Alicia's father had
abused AliCia. Durng this period o/time, Alicia was isolated from anyone who
believed her stor. i. e . . that some strange man had abducted her through her
Window, not that her father had molested her. In adition. Alicia's therapist
and the social workr blocked defense eforts for Alicia to see the judge on the
case. 10 hae an independent pschological evaluation, and be placed in the
interim with relatives (. 12-13).
Cee; and Brck (1995) note the repeated interiews to which children can be
subjected with investigators who presume that abuse has occrred while
Gardner (1992) sas that "therapy" is supposed to be an "uncovering" process,
which ma tak week, months, or even years. Gardner sarcastically sas that
ineVitably, in the hand ofsuch "therapists, " the child provides progressivel
more elaborate and even bizarre disclosures, which (are constred as)
conr(ing that the abuse did indeed take place (. 204). Elsewhere. Gardner
states that children should be removed/rom treatent with an overealous
therapist (. 498) and that no teatment at all ma be necessar, depending of
the particulars ofthe case (. 499).
te juvene cou systm paents may not be notfe when heags peri
to the chld ae beig held, may be gven only a hou or no notce, or may
sometes be ioned when a bearg is beig held. At other tes, tey may
be told tat they lido not have to be tere" by the social worker.
The failure to noti parents is a violation ofthe "right to notice, " another
procedural due process violation. The parent's "right to notice " has been
guaranteed in other courts ofla, but in juvenile courts it is not upheld.
AI other times, the only notice to parents is a message on an ansering
machine, lef with such short notice that the parent is not able to arrange to be
releasedfom work, to get to the hearingç or to seek appropriate legal
ofen told by thei own atoreys tat tey shoud "stpuate" to te chages�
which means tey do not contest tem or essentaly adt to wht was chged.
Te ae advsed to "do whatever te State wat you to do. "
Attoreys who attempt to defend persons accsed ofchild abuse are unable to
build a case. because access to evidence is stone-waled .So, in an attempt to
assist their clients. they ofen adice clients to concede to doing whtever the
Slate reqUires them to do, in order to hae their children returned. (ee #22).
Especially in cases where the attorney for the parents is a cour-appointed
attorey, the fe for handing the case in minimal and the attorney has limited
interest in pursuing the case. In sch cases, the attore is even more likely
to adice clients to stipulate and "do whtever the State wants. " In some cases
where clients hae had the resources to demand ajur tial, they might get a
sentence of100 years. That sentence is given in a case where there has never
been a charge forall mad against the parent for child abuse.
28. PRESUMPTION OF GUILT: Ay alegaton of suspectd chd abue is
assued to be te by socia workers. Assug that alrepor are te
constttes a "lresupton of gt,.' whch is cared touout vl y al
ivestigatve ad judicial proceedingse
The person accused ofchild abuse, ofen refrred to as the alleged perpetrator,
is presumed to be gilt ofthe crmes before the trial is heard (Hagen, 1997).
The whole arrangement o/the tial tells the jur that the defendnt cannot be
innocent. Jurors are presented with biased trial procedures. The trial is biased
The defendnt is presumed to be gilt and the judge ha alread reached a
judgment before the trial even opens (Hagen, 1997; p. 181-182)
The parent(). who are presumed t be guilt ofchild abuse. are placed in a

position o/having to attempt to prove their innocence. which actually can never
be done. Parents must retain legal counsel, i they are fortunate enough to have
fnancial resources to be able to do so. Poorly educated and lower-midle class
persons are most vulnerable to the sstem, because they do not understand it,
are not sophisticated at fighting it and do not hae the fnancial resources to
encounter it.
Social workrs and those who investigate allegations of child abuse often refer
to themselves as "vaUtlors, " belying their a prior assumption that al
alegations of abuse are tre and the task of the investigator is to get the child to
admit what happened (Cec; and Brck. 1995; Gardner, 1992; Scott, 1994).
Many people who are accused ofchild abuse sa that they want to go to court,
so that they can "pro-e themeles innocent " Constitutionaly, they should be
presumed to be innocent until proven olherise. The presumption ofgilt, 'fen
without evidence, is a violaton ofthe accused person's C onslilutional Rights,
i. e. , the Constitution states that persons should be presmed innocent until
proven gilt. Substantive due process violations are involved.
The San Diego Count Grand Jur found that mere suspicion to molest was
sufCient to fle a petition and to sustain a tre fnding. They wrote: " Te
burden oo contar to eer othe area 0/ our judicil sstem, i on the
aUeged perpetator to pro-e hi innocence (San Diego Count Grand Jur
Report, ''amilies in Crisis, " No. 2, p. 26. Underline in original).
Scott (1994) likned child abuse investigation. all ofwhich are assumed to be
tre to "the Spanish Inquisition, Hilter's reignt and Stalin's purges" (. J 34.).
Al citizens are, by the Constitution guaranteed of equal access under the Ja
and our judicial sstem is based on the presumption ofinnocence. The
prosecution ofchild protection cases is considered by many to be an anomaly of
Parents are not formaly charged through the juvenile courts. yet they are
"held to anser" jor the infamous crime of child abuse. Their civil rights
under the Fih Amendment of the Constitution are violated and they are
coerced into tlgoing along" with whatever they are told to do, with the ultimate
blackail being their children.
In some cases, statements which parents made in an atempt to get their
children returned to their care and custod were then taken, tisted. and used
against them to fle criminal charges ofchild abuse.
heangs� te defense on behalfofpaent is not allowed to present evdence
whch would defend te paent who has been accused of negect or abuse. In
some cases, paents ae told tat even if tey preva i a cou of la¾� tey will
be subject to te punitve ad itsive measures set out by te chd protectve
agency, oteise caled I
teatent stdads.
Parents are deprived ofdue process ofla, in that they are not allowed to
present a defense. Judges in child abuse cases ofen bar an evidence other than
that which will prosecute the parent, even though that "evidence " ma be hased
on improper inestigations, tainted hearsa, hiased anti-parent philosophies.
and selsering motives.
Scon (1994) reports several cases which were reviewed by the San Diego
Count Grand Jur in which the judge refed to allow the defne to hae the
child examined even when the time frame would not hae allowed the defendnt
to be in contact with the child at the tme that he allegedly seualy abused her.
When witesses came forard to provid a possible motive for false charges,
that evidence was suppressed Wen the case came to tial, the attitude ofthe
cour was clearly biased. The vast majorit ofdefene objection were
overrled, while the vast majorit ofprosecution objection were sustained.
A motion was fled askng the judge to disquali hersel due to the fact that her
bias was evident fom the fact that she was stict and stern with the defense
attorney, but friendly and pleasant toward the prosecution atore. The judge
cut ofthe defense anore durng discssions or questoning ofwitesses,
refsed to allow the defene attore to recal a witess, and showed obvious
dislike for the deendnt and defense counsel in the presence ofthe jur (p.
156-158). At one point, the District Attorney was alowed to read verbatim from
a prior statement when questioning her witess without action or interenton by
the judge, while Defnse Counsel was disallowed to proceed in a similar
manner regarding the same issue with his witess (Scott, 1994. p. J58).
Unortunately. such prosecutorial and judicil miconduct occurs ofen, in
fact, in many cases. Judges are intimidted by the SJpposed pO¥.er ofthe State
as represented in child protective workers, worried about leaing a child in
a risk sitation, and duped hy so"called child protection examiners and
experts. In adition. they may pursue their own political and social agenda, or
simply hae insufcient training and information aboul 1he risks offalse
accusation. Parents who seek a jur trial hae also been denied due process of
la, in that any one who might share their particular religious orientation, i. e. ,
attend church, is dismissed /rom sering on the jur. Therefore, parents who
anend church are, in efect¡ not tied by ajur of their peers.
Judges who sentence parents to conforming with child protective serice
standard are, in efectq sentencing them to sere out the child protective agency
sentence, whether they have been found gilt in a court of la or not.
Such miscarriages ofjustice hae happened ofen in the state of Okahoma, but
parents who hae been unjustly teated hae limited recourse against the state
agenc which engineers this anomaly ofthe legal sstem.
Judicial immunit protects juvenile court judges from being held accountable
for unjust terination ojparental rights. Judges in thejuveniJe court sstem
are allowed to operate under "administrative la, which frther shield them
from any accountabilit.
are daged into te cous, whch i Oklaoma is te juvenile cou, ofen tey
ae not alowed to present teir own case, to atemt to prove tei inocence.
Social workers ae alowed to testf, wit evidence ofen obtied by improper
ivestgatve metods ad mental health professions present tited heasay,
which is contted by "a priori bias. tI Socia workes may pusue te agenda
tat te state must readily ad routnely interene to protect children fom tei
paents, who ae icompetent ad dagerous to chlden.
Once involved in the juvenile legal proceedings, parents are coerced into
"stipulating" to the chargesa They ma be adised by legal counsel to "do
whatever the State wants you 10 do. Pressure to stiplate to the charges takes
place under coercion¿ with the threat being made implicitly or explicitlyq that
'you will never get your kd back unless you stipulate. " Or the alternative is
posed to the parents. you can go to trial, but then you'll bejound gilt and
you will never see your kds again. " or youl get 40 to 1 00 years in prison.
With this coercionq most parents succumb to the pressureç stipulate to the
charges. and submit to the treatment programs that are identied by child
protective sericeo
Parents do not understand the legal implications o!"stpulaton, " and are no!
operating out offree choice. Legally, in terms ofdue process. decisions should
be made "ee ofcoercion. " When the State has a family's children. they hae
possession ofthe most precious part ofa person's lie an that person wil do
virtually anthing to get his/her child returned.
Wen the paent or paent ae refered to teatent. tey are requed to adt
tat the abused the chd, a a condton of beig considered to have
"successfl y completed" tt prog. Litle considerton is gven t what te
paet assers or what te paent kows to be te. Wholesale requement of
adssion of gult is the order to te day.
No conideration is made about whether in/act the parent did or did not
actually abuse the child Based merel on the fact that the parent was fund
guit in a court 0/la (that actualy had not authorization to fnd an parent
gilt ofanything, since the parent is not charged in juenile cour), these
treatent progams proceed to coerce an require admission 0/gilt fom the
in man cases. the parents are required in mental health treatent programs.
to admit that they abused their children. Most programs require that the
parent(s) admit
ilt. i. e. , admit abusing the child. in order to successlly
complete the program. Failure o/the parent to admit gilt is used as the sole
criteria/or successl completon o/these "perpetrators' programs. "Failure to
meet the standrd established by the child protective serice workers will be
considered ground for terinaton o[parental rights.
Most counselors who work in these programs are operating based on ver
limited clnical inorÑation which indicates that admission ofgilt is necessar.
Most personnel in these mental health agencies hold the unproven notion that
admission ofgilt is a pre-requisite for change and are totaly unfamiliar with
legal rights ofthe parent in such cases.
Such programs report their teatent results to the child protective serice,
which then acts as treatment evaluator, to make a deterination whether or not
the parent has completed treatent successflly- The teatent report is
foFarded to the court. which proceed with terination o/parental rights
alleging that the parÚnt(s) did not make "acceptable progrss toward
completion ofthe treatment standrd.

Even iparents hae completed all
evaluations, sessions, counseling, and training. the deciding criteria on which
termination ofparental rights is based is whether or not the parents admit that
they abused the child-

However, there is no proven therapeutic efcacy to such required admission 0. (
guilt is necessar and such admission ofgilt. whether in a court ofla or
during particiation in a mental health program mandated by court order may
constitute a Fih Amendment violation. The lack of thera
eutic efcacy of
required admission ofgilt has been challenged by several authors. The
assumption that a parent must admit gilt in order to successfly complete
treatent has not been supported with scientic research (evine and Dohert,
1 991; Undenager and Wakefield 1991). Although persons who work in such
child abuse 'erpetrators' teatment programs operate with the assumption
that admission of gilt is a Widely-accepted standrd ofthe professional
communit, little existing literature is aailable on this subject.
Questions about ciil rights violations ofrequired admission of gilt in such
programs is being raised The legal argument can be made that required
admission 0/gilt, i. e. , haing abused the child, is a Ftfh Amendment Violation.
Patton (1990) reviewed legal precedents andfound that In lre J. w
" the
appeals court determined that the trial court could not reqUire apellants to
incriminate themselves in therap and could not use the parents' noncompliance
in ther as a ground/or keeping the children infster care or fr terinating
parental rights. Patton also pointed out that Caliornia has determined that it is
fndmentaly unfair to put parents to the Hobson's choice o/remaining silent in
court-ordered therapy, resulting in the (ermanent loss of their child, or
confessing to abuse, resulting in the loss of libert {p. 512-513}.
The coercion exerted on parents to admit that they abused their children is the
most extreme that could be placed on an individual The o
eration a/the "child
rotective sstem" is similar 10 the coercion which is takng place in China, with
decisions about the guilt or innocence of the accused
erson being made prior
to any judicial proceeding¡ defense evidence being blockedfrom courtt and
unjust proceedings at being carried on at aJjudicial levels= Such injustice is
happening in the United Slates just as in China (o One Is Saf, 1996).
Most parents are literaly in shock because their children hae been seized.
they are intimidated because the State has their children, they are traumatized
by the
rocess 10 which they hae been subjected. they are afraid of the
come, they fel powerless to fght the sstem, and they are in utter disbelief
that such justice can take place in the United States, which is supposed to have
a sstem ofjustice.
gven a vaet of stndads, " wit whch tey must comply i order to get thei
chlden reted. Tese "stdrds" ae requirements whch ae defed by te
chid protectve serce ad te paents ae ten ordered by the cou to follow
tem. Te paent ae refered to a vaet of aencies, may of whch contact
wit te Depaent of Hu Serces or who receive the bu of teir referls
fom te Depaent of Hua Serices.
Completon ofthese treatent standrd is length and time-consuming.
Completon ofthe "standard" in the teatent plan ma take from 6 months 10
as long as 2-3 years. The parent is not conideredfor retrn of the child until
the standrd are complete.
Completon o/teatent standrd ;sfnancially costly. The State does not take
into account the fnanCial cost ofcompletion ofstandrd. i. e . . cost of
pschological evaluations, cost ofalcohol andor drg treatent, cost of
counseling, parenting classes. etc. In adition, lost time fom work for court
proceedings and interiews, pament ofchild support tot he state and pament
for superised visitation frther burden fnancial resources ofthe family.
For afamily who has limitedjnnc;al resources, the epense ojcompleting
these treatment standrd ma worsen the family situation, partcularly in those
situations in which povert or poor housing conditions were misconsted as
evidence ofabuse. As indicated above, man cases which are alleged to be child
abuse or neglect are, in/act, povert. The State interention compounds
fnanCial distress, forcing many forerly solvent jamilies in bankptc.
The establishment of treatent standrd allos social workers an on-going
intrsion into each family. The role of social worke1s shis from being "helpers"
to being police agents. With this on-going intrsion. it is even more dif clt
for the family to return to normal. May people/eel, for years to come, that
they are nol safe in their own homes.
Parents remain searated fom teir chdren dug ts ente perod of tme,
which may rage up to several yeas. Te paent may be gven one hou of
visitton per mont wit hs/er chd, uder te supersion eye of te D HS
social worker. Ofe te vsitton tes place i Wdesiable setings, such as
crmped, bare ofce at te Deparent of Human Serces. May tes,
vsitton betee paents ad chdren is caceled, wit litle notce or
justfcaton fom social workers.
Maintaining an parent-child bond is virtually impossible, as the time alowed
for the parent and child to be together is so severely limited. The conditons
under which the parent and child are forced to visit make interaction extremely
dif cult. Many times, parents are told that the visitation in canceled because
the SOCial worker ;s too bus, has other commitents, has to be in court, has
other emergencies, etc.
There is no accountingfor the dmage which is done to the parent-child
relationshi in this period oftime. Parental alienation sdrome ma quickly
set in. in a matter ofa few week, depending on the age ofthe child. The
breakng o/the emotional bonding or attachment beteen the parent and child,
ma result in an reactive attachment problem, which has been grossly
overlooked. This attachment ma never be regained: permanent dmage to the
child is done.
The disturbance to the family by the process is immeasurable. Countless hours
oJlegal hearings, therap, and interiews take place. For fami!iesjortunate
enough to have some fnanCial resources, those fnanCial resources are drained
by legal fees. Ofen the parent(s) hae lost jobs because ofexcess absenteeism
due to a variet ofgovernment intrsions and legal hearings. Many families
have been forced into bankptc.
In some cases, the State requires that the mother divorce the father, assuming
that he is a ''erpetrator. " This results in yet another Single-parent family, who
then become dependent on State subsid. The children lose the opportunit
to be raised in a to . parentfamily. Such "perpetrators' programs" ofen hae a
distinct "anti-male. "anti-ather. " and "anti-amil
" philosophy (Scott. 1 994; p.
1 71). Such programs are ofen operated b
persons with radical Statist
agendas, with presumptions that men are power-mongers and perpetrators,
women are the only persons capable o/parenting. and/amilies are harmfl to
children. Such programs ofen presume that parents are incompetent and that
only with the superision ofso-caled "experts " ofthe State. can parents even
begin to flll their parental obligations.
The damage to the parent-child relationship is immeasurable. It is virtually
certain that the family will never be the same again. The child or children have
sufered irreparable dmage to their respect for their parents, ofen believing
that their parents hae abandoned them. being led to believe that their parents
hae abused them, and being told directly or by implication that they are not
safe with their parents.
In many cases, the child has been tly abused in foster care, sometimes even
raped or killed. Children are ofen shied from one foster home to another,
with no sense ofpermanence or securit. Children are separated fom their
siblings, worsening the pschological trauma to the child. - Children who are
shufed/rom one/oster home to another andfom one intitutional facilit to
another can develop pschological problems, such as a severe conduct
disorder, seldestrctve tendencies, or an inabilit to "bond" with an family.
The child is likely to be much more pschologically disturbed than he/she was
before allegations ofabuse arose. Attachment disorders among foster children
hae recent begn to be addressed in the professional literatre.
Even extendedfamily members are traumatized since ofen their visitation
rights with the child is denied to grandparentst aunts, uncles. siblngs.
I and when the family is re-unied, the child ma hae etremely behaior
problems. The parent(s) are lkely to find themselves with a child who has been
so damaged by the "System" that the child is dif CUlt to manage and control.
The parents are likely to live infear offrther State intrion.
I,reparable damage i done t te famil, which will neer be te same.
Te chd protectve serce places socia workers i nueous roles, which
consttte "uetca mutple relationships. II No one has botered to address te
fact that socia workes assue te multple roles of investgator, medcal
examer, litgat, prosecuton witess, teatent pla developer, teatent
efcacy evaluator, case maager, housig ipector, vsitaton supersor, legal
consutnt to te cou, ad police ofcer.
DHS social workrs usualy hae a 4 year college degree and are not qualied
to condct pschological and medical evaluations. Nor are they qualffed to
conduct la enforcement investigations, to understand the legal process
sufciently. or to be competent in the multiple roles in which they are placed.
Social workers are not adequately trained and not professionall competent
to perorm all ofthese multiple roles. ProfeSSional training cannot possibly
ensure competence in all ofthese roles. In additon, time constraints do not
alow them to fnction efectively in multiple roles. When social workers accept
employment with child protectve serice, they likely thought they would be
"helers, " i. e. , who assisted/am/lies. Placing social workers in investigative,
litigant and other roles is stressfl to them, as well. It is little wonder that
social workers who work/or child protective serices "burn out" so quickly
and employee tur-over rate is high.
Several states, such as Arknsas. have removed the investigative fnctionjrom
social workers' roles. while some others hae adocated/or contracted out to
qualied professionals.
Conict o/interest is apparent in mental health programs which hold contracts
with the child protectie serice or which receive many ojtheir referrals from
the child protective serice. The operation o/these programs ma be
questioned regarding a "confict ofinterest. " This possible confict ofinterest
compromises objectivit and cloud the mental health practitioners' abilit to
assist the client. Ethically, it ma be the State who is the "client " and not the
family. This presents an unethical professional arrangement. The mandated
reqUirement ofcounseling destroys the traditional therapeutic relationship
beteen the client and the provider ofcounseling serices.
chd whch is ten ito Stte custody is apparent justifcaton for more federal
ad stte fding. Fuer com
lats about al of te chlden who need to be
rotected fer fas te fames of "hystera" about chld abuse.
In 1 992, 659, 000 children "received out-ofhome care serices, " i. e. , were in
foster care at some point (C', 1995: Figre 2. 1, p. 49), although when
Federal /egislators ask for accountabilit about the number ofchildren
in Slate custod, they are told that only about 24, 000 children are in state
custod. Statistics are manipulated by child protection adocates to obtain
desired efects. i. e . , higher numbers to provoke hysteria and alar; lower
numbers for dejnse and se/protection, etc. At any given dy, over 445, 000
(. 49) children were infoster care or out-olhome placement.
Thefoster care sste
operates on "uncapitated" or unlimitedfnd, which
come from the Federal Government. under Title IV-E. A monetar incentive
exists. i. e. , the more children that a State can take into cstod, the more money
tht the State will get/rom the Federal Goverment. Billions oldollars are
spent annually on out-olhome placement. There has been little efort to tr to
maintain limits on government spendingfor foster care. Infact, there is a
monetar incentive to remove children, since the fnd which pa for joster care
hae been "uncapitated" fnd.
The Los Angeles Count Gran Jur recently foun that, in that count alone.
46, 000 children were under active court superision. Most cases were to years
in duration, but many were three andfour years in duration. There were 500
fll-time Qttorneys sering the courthouse. They were paid $14 million in lega/
fees in 1995 to represent these minors. More than 30 to 40 cases were heard per
da held in each of1 7 courtrooms (RusseJ, Cox. Krse, Nason, Pepp, Perkns,
and Simmons, 1 997, p. 3-3).
The Los Angeles Count Grand Jur also found group home adinistators'
salaries ranging up to $1 00. 000. One group home was receiing $4, 423 per
child per month. This equals $318, 456 per year for 6 children: for 5 group
home sitest this aded up to $1, 592, 28
e, yel'. Meanwhile, some children
receive no clothing allowance, no computers, no reference book and no
educatonal to"vs (Russell et 01. , 1997, pp. 3-5 and 3-6).
Other states do not compare much more favorably. In 1988. the State of

Missouri spent $82. 4 milion to place 12, 312 children outside their homes.
Ofthat total, 10, 280 o/these children or 84% were under the superision
of the Division ofFamily Serices, haing been placed in state custod due to
an allegation of abuse or neglect. Only 905 o/those children, or 7. 4% were
under the superision ofthe Department ofYouth Serices, due 10 delinquenc
or other unmanageabilit. The remaining 1, 131 or 9. 2% were under the
superision of
he departent ofMental Health, with a related mental health
problem (here's My Hame, 1989. pp. viii, 20).
The total annual cost for one year ofout-aIhome placement for one child in
Missouri ranged/rom $11. 424 to $93. 075 (. vii). The length oftime that
children spent outside oftheiT homes was over a year fOT the majorit of
children, with to out ofever fve children spending more than to years
outside their homes.
Missourifound that the highest costfor out-olhome serices was $255 per da
for a child placed in inpatent hospital care, while Family Foster Care under the
Departent ofFamily Serices had the lowest cost of$6. 83 per d (ere's
My Home, p. 20). Family Preseration Serices, iimplemented. were
estimated to be reduce expenditures by at least $10. 1 milion (. 41).
Another study of out-olhome placement for children in Missouri (Interrpted
Lives, 1990) estimated that one third of the children in out-ofhome placement
would be appropriate for Family Preseration Serices, i. e. , would not require
out-olhome placement (. v). The recommendtions ofthat report included,
among several other goals, to:
1) eand the development ofFamil Preseratn Serices for ever
appropriate famil across Misouri to aver unnecessar
pmcement ofchildren outide teir homes
2) reduce the 23% rate of chidren who re-entr te out-ofhome
Other states, including Iowa. hae stressed out-ofhome placement prevention
and family re-unication.
The joster care sstems of several states hae come under investigation for
fraud. In Texas. the investigation has found investigatve impro
falsifcation o/record, andfnancial ma
lfeasance. Dason (1996b) reported
on the child protective sstem as haing lack ofinstitutonal honest, with a
corporate culture that tolerates and encourages lies. deceit. flsication of
record, faud, and corrption.
In other documentation. Dason reported that the child protective agenc's
foster care program did not comply with Federal reglations, including
overcharging ofapproximately $3 millon ofunallowable Joster care costs,
makng paments to undocumented clients. and using Federal fnd to pa for
settlements oflasuits in which the agenc violated Federal and State las and
reglations (Dason. 1996b, p. 3). Questionable expenditures which were
found included prchasing land and blueprints for a $5 million church complex,
purchasing a providers program director's home for $4 J 7. 000, prchasing and
improving a home used for the executive director's ofce for nearl $200. 000.
The Inspector Generalfound that the child protectve agenc was retaining
approximately 38% ofthe fnd intended to provide food. clothing, and shelter
for children under their care and spending these fnd on unallowable
expenes (. 40).
Among man other abuses that the child protective agenc was carring on,
som testimon before the Teas Sunset Adisor Comminee by the child
protective serice eecutive director revealed that nearly 400 "abused and
neglected" chilren wee being housed in tent (in) at least nine dif erent
locations in Texas (. 5). Subsequent statement exposed that the State o/Texas
aing $15, 000 to $2.. 000
er child
er year for these so-called
"residntial therapeutic facilites. " Children in these cam
s resided without air
conditoning in the smmer. used s
ace heaters in the winter months and dug
their own toilets in the wood. One contractor was receiving $.200 per child
per monthfor housing children in such conditions! (Dtson, p. 5).
In a legislative review, State legislation in Teas has recently been passed
which removes immunit fom social workers who falsi the reslts of
investigation, suppress evidence which would prove that the child has not been
abused. or otherise perjure themselves to defend their own positions and the
remove the investigative Junction ofsocial workersjob and transfr that
jnction back to la enforcement (asonq 1997).
In Caliorniaa a major grandjur investigation of the/oster care sstem has
been conducted» The Los Angeles Count Grand Jur, on April 15, 1997. issued
the follOWing statement:
"On April 8, 1997, the Los Angeles Count Grand Jur released a critical
report o/Group Home care in Los Angeles Count. This report hold
the Departent o/Children and Family Serices (DCFS). along with the
State Communit Care Licensing AgenCYt accoNntable for poor
oversight " (oard Õ/SupeÎiÅors, Count ofLos Angeles, 1 997,· p. 1).
The Grand Jur found unallowable expenditures, questionable costs, and over­
paments. They also found that 46. 000 children were under active court
superision and most of the cases were to years in duration. Many of the cases
were three or four years in duration. Among the outages found, the Grand Jur
said it found homes that earn up to $60, 000 I year per child, a boy whose onl
ne clothing in two years was a pair of soch. Widespread failure to seek court
authorization to administer mind altering drgs, and physical abuse of children.
The budget for the foster care program was $238 million (Rainey, Los Angeles
Times, 1997).
Chid protective agencies oversee their own eforts, with no outside monitoring
ofthe/oster care sstem, allOWing it to rbber-stamp its own eforts and aoid
accountabilit. In some cases, the "oversight " that it gives itsel is for the social
workr merely to sig aform which sas that he/she made a "reasonable efort "
to fnd relative placement for the child or to re-unite the family- No monitoring
agenc with outside persons oversee most State's child protective agencies.
Wisuch Itocie, child protecte Igencies' powers should be seeel
curailed, i not virtaly eliminated .
foster care for years, i what is called "foster care df. Te waehouig of
chldren i foster homes places chdren at geater rsk. burdens te foster cae
system, resut i exaggeated clais of te magtde of te chd abuse
problem, ad leads to huge goverent expenditues.
Little or no concern is given by child protective agencies to the negative impact
ofbeing infoster care, i. e. t children are at much greater risk infoster care than
in their biological homes. The child ma act out the anger for being in Joster
care, which then results in transer to another foster home. hospitalization in a
youth pschiatric facilit. or institutionalization in a State-operated facilit for
incorrigible youths. Wexler (1995) reports on the inefectiveness offoster care,
including the facts that many persons who are homeless were pÎe}iously in
Joster care and that many children are abused infoster care.
(1995) notes that la suits against states, /or failuÎe to provide adequa
foster care, are pending in Louisiana, Kentuck, and Washington, D. C. He
reported that there were at least three class-action lasuits in progress in New
York Cit alone. In Illinois. there are at least eight class-action lasuits
pending. Illinois' Departent o/Children and Family Serices is presently
being sed - or has alread been held in contempt 0/court for:
l-ailure to provide preventiVe serices to keep children out offoster care
2-ailure to assig a caseorkr until thirt das or more afer the child
is placed in Joster care
3-abysmal conditions in emergenc shelters for Joster children
4-abysmal condition in/oster care aer children are placed
5-routine stip-searching in cases 0/alleged abuse
6-failure to provide adequate visitation (or parents)
7-ailure to provide serices to teenage mothers infoster care
B-ailure to provide Spanish-speakng workers to families that speak onl
(p. 192-193." reordered.
Another artcle (opels and Rycraf, 1993) also outlines the class action lasuit
which wasjled against the Illinois Departent ofChildren and Family Serices
(DCFS)for failing to assig a caseorker to Q childfolowing the issuance
ofa temporar custod or protective order (. 400). Further, the lasuit
alleged that the IDCFS [iled to:
1) make reasonable eforts to prevent the removal ofchildren/rom their
2) make reasonable eforts to reunite with their families children who
hae been removed/rom their homes
3) noti appropriate agencies when a child is mistreated while placed in
(a/oster) home
4) develop case plans to ensure proper serices to children while in
(out-olhome) placement (. 400).
Te soluton i not to ge chUd protecte serices more power: te solutn i
t reduce te unbridled ptJer which the c,"enti have. Te sO/ltn i not
to move children out ofjoster care, but to keep tem fom entering i!!
oter requeents, federal law reques tat, i order to receive federa fdig,
sttes must have, i place, a pla to ensue tat ureasonable efor are expended
to prevent chden fom beig removed fom tei fes ad tat childen be
re-uted wit teir faies, i tose cases where out-of-home placement has
been necessar.
In/act, such "reasonable efrts" are utterly meaningless. The "reasonable
eforts" requirement, in practice, is little more than askng the social workr
to "initial" a blank on another bureaucratic/orm, atesting that he/she make
an efort to comply with the regulation. In practice, social workers merely
certi that their own eforts are "reasonable, " without any accountabilit to
an outside agenc. As with virtually all other aspects of child protective
serices, taining i neglgble, power i unchecked, lnd accountbilit i
The Supreme Court interreted that the federal legislation makes fnding
contingent at least in part on haing a plan in place for "reasonable eforts. "
There is nothing in the la that sas that the plan has to be implemented.
Furthermore, the Court shoc/ngly determined that/ederal legislation "does
not create a federally enfrceable right to reasonable efrts, " concluding that
Congress did not intend to create a private remed for enforcement of the_
reasonable efrts provision (Kopels and Rycrof. 199J, p. 402-403).
Federal legislation has been introduced which would reduce the "reasonable
eforts" reqUirement, allegedly to facilitate adoption. The anser to the foster
care problem is not to eliminate the "reasonable eforts" reqUirement, but the
solution should be to:
1) ReqUire by la that the state plan which is required to ensure
"reasonable eforts" must be implemented.
2) Legislatively create afderally enfrceable right to "reasonable
eforts " to prevent out-ofhome placement and to re-unite the
family in an expedient manner. This enorceable right should be
codied to protect parents and for parents acting on behal of
their children.
3) Create las which will allow parents legal remed against agencies
and workers who fail to implement "reasonable efort. "
4) Require that each state have an independent monitoring bod. which'
is designated by the governor, with legislative overSight. to
monitor the reasonable eforts" ofeach state child protective
5) Implement the same "qualied immunit" standrdfor social workers
as provided to polce ofcers should replace the present "absolute
immunit. "
6) Social workers who Jail to enact reasonable eforts " to presere the
family, i. e. , prevent out-olhome placement, or 10 re-unile the
family should be subject to administrative review and possible
7) State child protective serices which fail to ensure " reasonabJe eforts"
should be subject to loss ofFederal fning.
Funding for foster care programs and management ofsuch programs hae
come under greater scrtiny across the nation. This trend will likel continue.
Te reason tat jostr clre roles are bulgng i tlt "child protctve sstem"
are poorl managed, inefint unaccountabl lnd have to much power.
In Oklahoma, the Govemor's of ce gets several hundred phone calls Q d
about abuse ofpower by the child protection sstem. but can do little because
the governor does not hae direct oversight ofthe Departent ofHuman
Serices. DHS was set up to hae complete autonomy, with the only oversight
being ofred by 9 commissioners. Legislators also have no direct oversight of
the child protective serice.
Te anser to the /ster care problem i not more /ser homes, more mone
fr [ster care, or more epedient adoptn_ Te anser i to revamp te
entre fult chid protctve sstem, protectng/miiies not destoyig tem.
cou deteres tat the paent( s) have not shown enough iteest i te chld,
have not successfly completed tei "standads," or oterise have not met te
expectatons of DHS. I tese cases� legal ternaton of paetal rghts wil be
Parental rights can be legally terminated quite whimsicaly through the
juenile courts. The failure ofthe parent to admit that he/she abused the child
can be takn as failure to successlly complete a program and can be used as
ground for termination o/parental rights.
Social workrs and judges tak termination ofparental rights in a rather
caalier manner. The standrd which is used in all juvenile court proceedings.
including the termination of parental rights is ''reponderance ofeVidence. "
One famous court case, SantosJ v. Kramer (455 U. S. 745: 1982), found that
Ne York was terminating parenting rights to their children which only "afair
preponderance ofevidence " standrd ofproof This means that the state only
had to show, only by a margin of51% to 49% that abuse had occurred. This
''air preponderance
standard is the lowest standrd 0/proof aailable in court
The Courtfour that the ''air prepondrance" standrd ofproo/violates the
Fourth Amendment 0/the United States Constittion.
The United States Supreme Court has warned against the possible errors in
the use o/this lowered standrd ofevidence and has determined that a higher
standard 0/proof "clear and convincing" evidence be used in questions of
termination o/parental rights.
" In essence, the Supreme Court's deCision made legal terination ofparental
rights more difcult, rather than easier.
In reviewing possible termination o/parental rights, the United States Supreme
Court found that:
"The Jndmental libert interest q{ natural parents in the care, custodt
and management o/their child is protected by the Fourth Amendment,
and does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents
or hae lost temporar custod oftheir child to the State. A parental
rights terination proceeding intereres with that fndmental libert
interest. When the State moves to destroy weakened/amilial bond, it
must provide the parents withjndmentaly fair procedures (p. 752-
754 Image).
In short, the terination ofparental rights is not a matter to be taken lightly �
No doubt, the right to the care, cstody, and management ofone's own child is
more precious to most parents than lie itsel
Te directon tat legilaton should take i to make it more dif cult/or
government to take children away fom teir parentg eier temporariy or
pemanently. Te isue at hand i, witout I doubt, an isue involvig
constttonal right ofparent lnd children
Appointed Specia Advocate (CASA) worker is appoitd for te chd. Te
CASA worker ae upad voluteers, who have about 6 weeks of tg.
CAS workers are allowed to mak treatent recommendtions and adise
about the feasibilit ofre-uniting the child with his/her parents. The untrained
volunteers are given substantial power in deciding the fate ofthe child and the
family. The unpaid, untrained volunteers efectvely hoe more power than the
Governor ofthe State, since the Governor cannot even get access to record
and ma need to issue an executive order to get access to child abuse case
40. THE "CLOAK OF SECRECY: " Te Depaent of Hu Serces has
opertes behd a ., cloak of secrec" tat it conses wit " confdetat. It DHS
fils to provde ifonaton to paents, to legslators, or to te executve brch
of goverent, alowing it to operte wit absolutely no accoutbilt.
Even the Governor ofthe State ofOklahoma has been hinderedfrom obtaining
access to information about child abuse cases andfrom inpection ofrecord.
The "cloak ofsecrec" alows lack ofaccountabilit an gross abuse a/power
by child protective agencies. Legislators who attempt to assist their constituents
are also "stonewalled" by the child protective serice. which asserts
confdentialit. "
Legal proceedings of aleged child abuse cases are held in closed juvenile
courts. All record are sealed to the public, all proceedings are closedt
personnel workng in these courts hae total secrec. which is justied as
" confdentialit. " Parents. legislators, State ofcials, and the public are
efectively barred/or an aareness o/what is takng place.
Judges operate by administrative la" which allows them greater latitude in
the conucting o/proceedings, i. e. , deciding which eVidence will be or not be
admited, which witesses will be or be not alowed¡ which evidence will
be considered credible and admissible versus that which will not be admissible.
There are no "check and balances within this judicial branch ofgovernment.
The "cloak ofsecrec" which surround al ofthese proceedings allows the
entire process to be unaccountableç corrpt, selsering and in Violation of
due process ofla.
Children may be injured, abused or become il in custody
of the State, i. e., in foster cae, but tese cases go uvestgated ad chden
ae alowed to remi in a sitton where tey ae ty at rsk. Chd proteton
socia workers have told parents tat tey canot move te child to aoter
foste� because te "mgt get sued" for movg te chd to aother sitton.
This maks absolutely no sense! How can social workers koingly leae a
child in a foster home where kown risk exists, with justication "DHS might
get sued?" Such decision-making belies real motivation ofchild protectve
serices - seleraton.
Child protective serices reveals an overal failure to flll its basic mission,
i. e. , 10 protect children. The public ;s misled by statistics about the horrors 0/
child abuse and the need/or goverment interention to protect children. The
State does not, in/act. accomplish the goal o/protecting children. Families are
destroyed in the process and parent-child relationships are irreparably
damaged infact. the government has not succeeded in the "mission statement "
o/protecting children and has pt children infar more danger through the
"child protective sstem" than children face in their own homes.
One mother talked about the fact that the allegation was made that her child
was sexually molested. The child protective serice took the child and wanted
to perorm a genital examination. When the child. who was about 1 0 years old,
refsed the examination. the child was sedted (artiall), again without
parental authorization. The young lady was not fll sedted and became
conscious during the procedure. The mother commented that, afer some time,
she realized that her dughter experienced that (child protective serice)
examination as rapes "
The incident which happened in Stroudbergt Pennsylvania in 1 996. in which
school girls were subjected to vaginal examination against their will and
without parental consent is another example ofthe authorit ofthe State being
taken beyond reason. The fact that several ofthe girls objected, atempted to
refse the examination, were not alowed to noti their parents. and were
forcibly subjected to gnecological examinations suggests, to this author. that
the examination was also experienced b� those girls as rape.
The child experiences trauma fom the "sstem" in which he/she is placed. The
child, in fact, experiences "iatogenic tauma. which means that the treatment
which was designed to resolve the problem induces other problems» Children
may become highly confsed, ambivalent. dissociated, or depressed as a result
ofthe treatment that they are receiving at the hand 0/the child protective
Parent are not perect in raisig children but the State i far wore.
RIGHTS: Chdren's rghts ae seen i legaJ oppositon to paents' rgt, wit
no coniderton of te fc tat chdren hve a rght to be a pa of te faily,
tat parents have a Constttonal rgt to paent teir chden. So-caled "child
advocates" vew chdrents' rgt i legaJ oppositon to paent rgts.
The "child advocates" actuaJy are pursuing a political agendq in which the
theme o/protecting children is used In/act, children are ''ans'' ofthis
political movement, and the public is deceived by the rhetoric that this is ''or
the children. "
Children cannot be severed/rom the family context with their siblings and
parents, without the presumption that the State will then take custody ofall
The United States Supreme Court hs stated that children are not proper
that there are intangible fbers that connect parents and child. which eist
between parent and child, which are woven through the fabriC ofour societ.
providing it with strengthq beaut, and fexibilit. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
"No ties are more precious than those binding parent and child. and . . .
fedecrees are so grae in their consequence as a court order
peranently severing the parent-child bond.
(States Must Allow Parents, 1996).
The Supreme Court has noted that there are, in/act, "intangible fbers " beteen
parent and child "are sufciently vital to merit constitutional protection in
appropriate cases. "
kahoma Supreme Court has recognized that tIthe right ofa parent to the
companionship, care, custod, and management ofthe child is a fndmental
right protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution. "
The vast majorit ofparents give their entire lives for the sak oftheir
children, work for their children and would literall die for their children. The
State will not give that knd ofsacrice to an child.
In the juvenile courts which handle suspected child abuse and neglect cases.
the fndamental rights of
arents are considered non-existent.
Federal legislation has been proposed which would expedite terination of
parental rights, supposedly to facilitate adoption. Legislation should consider
parental rights to be presum
tive, except when there ;s clear eVidence of
imminent risk ofserious har to the child
Any II which would eedite terminaton ofparentl right, without due
process of11, would likel 10t wihstnd Constttonal scrutny.
Onl when the child i tt iminent rk, wit "clear and convicing eidece"
ofthat rik, should te government interene. Children's rights cannot be
artiCially separated/rom parents' rights.
43. CHILDREN PITTED AGAINST PARENTS: Hstorcally, even before law was
codifed ad before the Unted States exsted, paentl rgt were upheld by
comon law.
f l
Te suppor by cou decisions of parental rght prevaied ut
about 20 years ago. Parents' autort to raise teir own chldren was suppored
by goverent. Schools fnctoned i cooperaton wit paents, not as agents of
te Stte. In approxmately te last 20 yeas, rougy since te itial passage of
te Chd Abuse Preventon and Treatent Act, paental rgts have been usued
by te Stte and cous have fled to uphold paenta rgts. (See Wtehead,
1 985) for a complete review of te legal and hstorical literatre). A vl
"Pandora '5 Box" of legal, social, ethica, ad judicial problems ha been opened
as te resut. Children ae told tat, i essece, tey do not need to respect
paetl autorit, even if tat paet auto
t is reasonable. Te State is
movg toward "te-over" of parentg roles.
Older children, but also some quite young, are learning to use the sstem to
get what they want. Children lear ver qUickly that they can intimidte their
parents by threatening to turn them into DHS. They also kow tht they can
contol their parents with threats ofsexual abuse allegations.
Children hae been empowered by this abilit to threaten their parents. In some
cases, an adolescent has made a report to DHS. been removed, set up in an
apartment alone. with goverment subsid, without investigating the nature of
the report.
Children are empoweredt although they are legally incompetent an
pschologically immature.
Parents hae been dis-empowered by the process, i. e. , parental athorit hs
been undermined
In the process. the family unit is targeted for destrction, with the only
alternative aailable being that children will be placed in State cstod. Te
destrction ofthe basic social unit, i. e ø• thefami/ would be the end result.
A complete discusion ofthis subject will need to aait more intenie st.
For the present discussion, the abilit ofchildren to manipulate the "sstem"
without more carefl questioning by those in authorit is noteworth.
Our countr should re-af rm the parent-child relationship as the "more
precious" than any bond linkng the child with the state. Legislators and al
citizens should recognize the family as the basic social unit and recogize that.
without health families. our societ wil move rapidy to seldestrctionQ
uderlyg assupton of ma "chd advocates is tat paents ae not
capable of raisig tei own chden ad tat men i paicuar ae haf to
chdren, ad tat ony wit oversigt fom te goveret exers, can paents
fflte parent role. Chdren are seen as beig at imminent rsk fom tei
own parents ad must be protected by Stte iterentons.
Bringing the discussion fll Circle. the child protective sstem operates with
a bureaucratic a"ogance, with unbridled power. massive fnding, and virtual
lack ofaccountabilit. Statistics are used to create "hysteria" or a sense of
moral panic, when, in/actg the problem is not nearly ofthe magnitde that it
is alleged to be. The State uses these children to achieve motives to acquire
power and money_ As Besharov estimated. approximately 900, 000 fmilies are
being destroyed annualy by unwarranted State intrsion.
Each senator and representative has had numerou calls fom constituents who
were heart-sick. when their children were seized by the state and probably most
ofthose legislators said "there's nothing that we can do about it. "
The "child protective sstem" ;s something that we must "do something about.
The extent ofinjustice, unprojessionalismg deceptionq personal dmageq and
Jack ofaccountabilit. and is unconscionable and unbearable- 1 have no motive
of fameg fortune, or personal beneft: my only motive is to see this so-called
child protective sstem changed to genuinely protect children and to sae
American families fom State destrction.
The presumption ofchild protection advocates is that the State is much better at
protecting children than their parents, when research shows that children are
ten times more likely to be injured while in state custod than in the custod of
their parents. The child protectve sstem is jailing in its primar mission.
Bilions ofdollars are being spent. The operation ofchild protective sstemsç
from reporting ofaleged abuse. through investgation, prosecton, and case
management is so highly faed that it is 'Inol good clinical practice. not good
science¡ and probably not good la" (Adms, 1996)
Sowel (1995) has been among the most straight-orard and bold in his
criticism ofthe "child protecton sstem" saing:
"Make no mitl ke about it tose who organized thi polital pageant were
doing so on tei own behal10' money and power- and chUdren were just
"Anyone who doesn't beliee i pouring more billions olta doll rs down te
botmless pi offailed socil progam will be said to be 'against chilren'.
"Howeer, what te leaders want i not just mone, but poer- te power to
mie oler te role o!parent, witout responsibili for te consequences.
Tat has been te agenda ojgoups Oke te soalled 'ChUdren's Defese
Fund, ' sice long before ti rally was held or plnned
" Colctim i te raiig o!chidren i a teme repeatd ; such
epressins l 'mera's children' •.••
Power i what so-calld 'children 's advocates' are all about "
In conclusion, the time/or thoughtul consideration o/the
process 0/reporng, investgating, managing, and ting
suspected child abuse cases has undoubtedl come!!!
f '
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Judith K. AdamsJ Ph= D. LMFT
Licnsed Clnical Psychologist
7170 South Braden, Suite 160
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74 136
Telephone (f1S) 4f45010 FA (f1S) 4945825
Te followig recommendaton peig te Chld Protectve System have been
gouped togeter to palel te process by whch suspected chld abuse cases ae
reporedæ ·'ivestgated," prosecutedq ad teated. These recomendaton include a
sytesis of te recommendatons made by te followig autors, a wel as by te
autor of te preset acle.
STATES SENATE: Subcommtee on Early Chdhood, Yout ad
TERY DAWSON: NASVO ISSUES: ad Texas Legslaton Poposals