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Judith K. Adams, Ph.D.

, LMFT, DBCFE, JCADe, CTS


Licensed Clinical Psychologist
7170 South Braden, Suite 160: Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136
Telephone (918) 494-5010 FAX (918) 494-5825

THEY SAY IT'S "FOR THE CHILDREN"

Child Protective Service:


Reporting, Investigation, and Judicial Action

In the past 20 years� reports of alleged child abuse have been increasing at an alanning rate.
The statistics are often used to fuel alarm and to advocate for increased fimding to protect
children. However, claims about an epidemic of child abuse are misleading. The use of
statistics often serves only to create hysteria about child abuse, and as an avenue to gain
more politicaJ power. In reality, the claims about child abuse are not based on accurate
numbers. Furthermore, merely making claims about the increase nmnber of reports
overlooks a vastly greater problem with the whole child protective system.

Some observers claim that hysteria has set in and abuse is being 'discovered' where none
exists. A multitude of problems have emerged within the child protective syst� from the
anonymous reporting, through investigative procedures, warrantless searches of homes,
and unauthorized body searches of children. The problems range from the laws themselves
including vague definitions of what constitutes child abuse and neglect, overly-broad
reporting requirements, poor investigative methods, and lack of justice in the judicial
handling of such cases. Systems which were designed to protect children are not protecting
children, but are, in fact, destroying thousands of families each day. Child protective
agencies operate without accountability, even to the governors and legislators of their
respective states. The problem of a child protective system which is out-of-control is not
limited to one district or state, but stretches across the United States and aroWld the world.

In addition, a number of sources have begun to identify civil rights and due process
violations in the judicial procedures which are used. The hasty removal of children is
conducted in a manner which protects neither the rights of children or of their parents. A
system which was set up to protect children is not, in reality, protecting them and is, in many
cases, subjectingtbem to even greater risk ofpbysical, emotional, and sexual maltreatment.
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THEY SAY IT'S "FOR THE CHILDREN"


PROBLEMS WITH
"THE CHILD PROTECTIVE SYSTEM"

1 . INFLATED STATIST ICS: The number ofchild abuse reports has been steadily
increasing, with these statistics often being cited in an emotional appeal for
greater funding allocation and increased alarm about the hOlTors ofchild abuse. f I

The Child Welfare League of American reported that, in the ten years between !. .. I
1984 and 1993, reports of child abuse and neglect rose by 68% (Petit, et al., :1
1995, p. 5).
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The citing of statistics to justify child protection intert1ention has been referred
to as "11 numbers 'lime" (Pride, 1994; p. 29-42). Wexler (1995) presents an
interesting discussion of how to play "the numbers," meaning that the numbers
"are bandied about" and numbers that call the approach of the 'child savers'
into question are ignored (p. 77).

"A claim that is often made about child maltreatment is that the problem is
getting worse and is reaching 'epidemic' proportions. The use of the word
'epidemic, ' a medical metaphor, has the effect suggesting that the problem is
out-ol-control, is outside the range of normal social and political discourse, and
is so wide-spread and serious that drastic actions are reqUired" (Robin, 1991. p.
8). These statistics are used to help generate a 'moral panic' (p. 9).

The repeated citation o/ statistics are used to create an hysteria (Pride, 1986),
which has also been called "creation of a moral panic" (Robin, 199 1 , p. 9). The
citing of statistics fuels the hysteria around the emotional issue of child abuse
and allows child advocates to seek additionaljinancial resources. Sowell (1996)
states that those who quote these statistics are doing so "on their own behalf-
for money and power- Dnd children arejust pawns. "

Other authors (pride, 1986, Scott, 1994) have reached the conclusion that the
child protective system is out-o/-control, rather than the child abuse problem.
In addition, several authors have addressed the poiiticalizDtion of 'child abuse'
for the sake of obtainingjunding and undermining /amilies (Hacking, 1995, pp.
..
57 60; Sowell, 1996; Whitehead, 1985). In/act, the number a/ substantiated
57-60; Sowell, 1996; Whitehead, 1985). Infact, the number oJsubstantiated
cases of abuse has not grown at the same rate as the overall number of reports
(Scott, 1994: Sowell, 1996).

Wh ile the inflation of statistics about reported child abuse and neglect may
create panic and make it much easier 10 get money (Pride. 1986), these statistics
are highly unreliable (Robin, 1991, p. 8). Distinctions benveen s uspec ted and
confirmed cases of abuse, as well as between cases of child beating and all
other forms a/maltreatment are, at best, blurred (p. 8). Child abuse may
include only slapping or spanking a child.

Do uglas Besharov, former director o f the National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect estimates that 80 percent of substantiated child abuse reports involve
excessive corporal punishment (which to many social workers means any
spanking), minor physical neglect, educational neglect, or emotional
maltreatment (Cited in Pride, 1994; p. 31).

Moreover, the proportion ofsubstantiated reports out of the total number of


reports has been declining (Ceci and Bruck, 1995: pp. 21-26). The proport ion
ofunsubstllntiated or unfounded reports has risen from 35% ofthe total to
about 60% ofthe total (Besharov, 1985; Wexler, 1 99 2). Across the United
States, approximately 60% of all repo rts result in an "unsubstantiated"
determination, but the resultant devouring of child protective resources is
unacceptable. The dama ge to children andjamilies is unconscionable.

Wexler (1995) says that out o/every 100 reports alleging child abuse or
neglect:

at least 58 are false


21 are mostly poverty cases
6 are sexual abuse
4 are minor physical abuse
4 lire unspecified physical abuse
3 are emotional maltreatment
3 lire "other" maltreatment
1 is major physical abuse (p. 87)
The category of"other m altreatm ent may include such things as singling ouf
"

a ch ild/or more punishm e nt, more chores, or fewer rewards,forcing a child


to wear clot hing deemed to be "inappropriate"jor his or age or se x ; not
providing "security or st abil ity for the child; b arring the childfrom extra
"
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curricular activities. or using excessive threats or psychological punishments


(p.87).

To further complicate the matter, the only s tatistics which are available are
those from governmental agenCies which have a vested interest in re porting as
much child abuse as possible. Scott (1994; p. 29) re ports that the shocking
figures are usually accompanied by pleas for more money and more unchecked
power for child protective service workers. No statistics are QVailable
rega rdin g the number ofchildren who were injured, abused neglectedt or
sexually molested while in State custody. Furthermore. one author estimates
that children are 10 times more likely to be ahused while in State custody than
in their b iological homes (Scott, 1994, p.J02).

Additional panic isfueled by claims of the number of deaths due to child abuse.
Actually, the numher ofdeathsfrom child ahuse ;s extremeLy small, about 1250
children nationwide. While each death is tragic, the rate is less than 2
thousandths of one percent (p. . 00002) of the number of children in the United
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States. Risks from otherfactors, such as automobile aCCidents, aCCidental falls,


and several other medical conditions are jar greater than the risks as the result
ofchild abuse (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1994, p. 93).

The Child Welfare League estimated that there were 2000 fatalitiesfrom child
abuse, nationally, in 1993 altho ugh actually statistics only tallied J028 deaths
ofchild abuse (CurtiS. el al. J995. p. 4). Estimates of the number of children
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who die of abuse each year vary but another source (NASVO. Nov. 1996. p. 2)
reported that 800 children d,e an nually in Joster care in California alone.
Across a/I states, it is difficult 10 de te rm ine how m any children are abused or
e ve n die while in state custody.

In short, the statist ics regarding child abuse are highly suspect to anyone who
studies the "child prote ctive system. " The manipulation of statistics to create
a sense ofpanic or "crisis" has been used/or nearly 20 yearsa As the fo llowing
informati o n will show, rather than providing Q s olution for child protection, the
current system is making the prob lem far worse: placing children at greater
risk of harm and destroying nearly a million jam ilies a year.
2. VAGUE DEFINITIONS: Oklahoma Law says that any person who Uhaving reason
to belie ve that a child has tlhad phys ic al injury or injuries inflicted upon the child
by other than accidental means where the injury appears to have been caused as a
result of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect shall report the matter promptly
to the Department ofHwnan Services in the county wherein the suspected injury
occurred." (OK 10 Sec. 7103: AI). Laws defining child abuse vary
from one state to another, with little uniformity.

Robin (1991) notes "definitions of child abuse and neglect are unnecessarily
vague andfail to clearly specify standards for reporting and case assessment
(p. 5). He further notes that nowhere are there clear-cut definitions o/what is
encomp assed by the terms (p. 6).

Definitions ofwhat constitutes "abuse" and "neglect are unclear. Lists of


"

physical symptoms are slightly better than definitions of emotional abuse.


sexual abuse, or neglect, since observable medical signs can be identified .

Often lists o/what should be considered abuse are all-encompassing and


include contradictory signs as "indicators. " Normal behavior is not easily
distinguished/rom abuse-related symptoms (see Kalichman, 1 995; pp. 25-29).

Douglas Besharov, first director of the National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect (NCCAN), as cited by Robin (1991t p. 6) has noted lithe vagueness and
overbreadth oj the standards governing child abuse standards. " As a result,
child protective agency deCision makers rely on personal interpretations and
values, rather than on clearly articulated social gu idelines (Robin, 1 991: p. 6).

The current laws and policy guidelines which are inadequate to permit social
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workers to make clear decisions about whether a situa tion should be


considered abuse, need to be reviewed. The recently revised Child Abuse
Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA; J 996), which was signed into federal
law on October 16. 1 996, defines "child abuse and neglect " 10 mean:

"serious physical
or emotional harm II
which results in "imminent risk
•••

oJserious harm" (U.S. Stat. 1 10: P.L. 1 04-235, Sec. 1 10).

In additiont the revised CAPTA indicates that "recent acts should be


"

considered. such that events which took place a number of years ago are not
subject to investigation. However, most states have not revised state statutes to
comply with this federal legislation and child protective agencies continue to
operate with their own definitions of child abuse and neglect.
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Child abuse and neglect laws are so vague and imprecise that they allow state..,.
intervention not only when a child has been clearly harmed but "also when
parents have improper habits or attitudes" (Robin. 1991. p. 6). In some cases,
a spanking is defined as abuse (Scott, 1994, p. 29).

Definitions ofchild abuse are ambiguous and may very well be in violation of
ConstitutionaJ/legal reqUirements. Questions of the constitutionality of the
child abuse laws themselves include whether such laws are unconstitutional as
written and/or unconstitutional as interpreted and applied Failure of child
protective laws to meet Constitutional guidelines results in violations of the
Constitutional rights o/persons subjected to those laws.

Inthe past, states have been deniedfoderalfunding when they attempted


to define reportable abuse as only ''serious'' abuse, although the most recent
federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act will likeJy change this
limitation. For example. Pennsylvania was found ineligib.le forfederalfunding
because of inclusion ofthe words "serious injury" (Kaliehman, 1995, p. 12).

Several authors (Besharov, 1985; Pride, 1994; Wexler. 1995) have noted that
child abuse is often confused with poverty. Besharov further notes that children
and families have many unmet social service needs for which the label "child
abuse and neglect" and Q child protective response are inappropriate (p. 40).

The definitions of child abuse need to be clarified. statutorily. Definitions


should be clarified so that highly subjective application a/terminology by ill­
trained. over-worked child protection workers is greatly reduced The political
agenda underlying "child protection" efforts should be curtailed

3. LACK OF PHYSICAL EVIDENCE IN MOST CASES: In many cases, no


physical evidence of abuse or neglect exists. In many cases of alleged sexual
molestation., emotional maltreatment, or neglect, no physical evidence is
present. Even in conditions in which physical abuse is alleged, medical findings
can be mis-diagnosed (Kirschner and Stein, 1985; Hurwitz and Castells, 1987).
Cases where no physical evidence of injury or abuse is present are the most
problematic.

In several studies, approximately 40 to 7S% o/sexuaJ abuse clUes present


without specific signs o/maltreatment (Ka/ichman, 1995; pp. 27).
At times merely when children are conSidered "at risk." state intervention takes
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place (Scott. 1994; p. 54). Other situations in which children. such as a children
oj 12 years o ld are left unattendedfor very brie/periods of tim e i.e.. 10
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minutes, have been co nside re d neglected. In other cases, merely the chi/d's
"reaction" can be used as definitio n of abuse (Kalichman. 1995; p. 25).
resulting in an even h igher degree oj s ubje c tiv ity in defin ing abuse.

Such situations which lack physical evide nce have been the su bject of major
grandjury investigation (Hopkins San Diego County Grand Jury, 1991-92),
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which concluded:

''In too many cases, Child Protection Services cannot distinguish real
abuse from fabrication, abuse from neglect, and neglectfrom poverty
or cultural differences. Each of these requires Q different response,­
yet the cu"ent system all too frequently fails to differentio.te" (1991-92
San Diego County Grand Jury Report No.2; p. 4).

4. LACK OF "REASON" IN REPORTING: Legislation was likely written with the


presumption that careful mental health practitioners and other providers would
use reasoning in reporting and would screen before they make a child abuse
report. In practice today, mental health practitioners are taught to report
everything, assuming that the child protective service does the screening. Many
practitioners have never reviewed or studied laws pertaining to child abuse
reporting and are poorly trained about reporting child abuse.

Projessional training has only emphasized the importance of reporting but has
not established professional guidelines for reporting abuse. Professional
workshops have nOI adequately explored the issues of the relative intended
benefits for the child as well as the potential risks of false or frivolous reports.
Besharov (1991) provides an in-depth discussion of the problems with current
child abuse and neglect screening and intervention poliCies, noting that laws
which reqUire reporting of threatened harm "add immeasurably 10 the
subjectivity o/reporting and investigatory decisions" (p. 41). He also notes that
child abuse reporters are expected to exercise "reasonable cause to suspect" or
"reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neg lect has taken place. This is "not
"

an open-ended invitation to report whenever one has a vague. amorphous. or


unspecified concern (p. 44).
In child protective service investigations, there is often little consideration of�
"Ilccidentlli means" which are the part of normal childhood development, i.e.,
activity bruises9 sporting accidents, etc. Other accidental situations are
frequen tly considered to be abuse, without adequate investigation of the
circumstances (Kalich m an. 1995: pp. 29-32).

5. VARIATION IN MANDATED REPORTERS: The persons who are required to


report abuse vary from state to state, beginning with medical personnel, but
expanding rapidly to include a variety of professional gro up s . In addition to
social workers, teachers, and mental health professionals, mandated reporters
may include lawyers, visiting nurses, guidanc e counselors, religious healers,
p-harmacists, and commercial film developers (Kalicbman, 1995, pp. 23-24).

Under Oklahoma law, personnel in the medical and nursingjields, teachers,


and any other persons are reqUired to report suspected physical or sexual
abuse. or neglect. but any person may report oJ abuse against any other person.
Mandated reporting was based 011 the presumption that children cannot use the
protection of the lawfor themselves and therefore needed others to act for them.
It was also assumed that parents who maltreat children will not voluntarily
request services and that endangered children will not come to the attention oj
public agencies Without mandatory reporting (Hutchison, 1993, p. 57).

"
Hutchinson (1993) notes tha t nearly 30 years after the development and
implementation ofthese mandatory reporting laws, there is little empirical
evidence to support the assumptions on which they were based In fact, some
evidence exists to invalidate at least some a/the assumptions (p. 57). The
assumption that mandated reporting will lead to early detection and
prevention ofserious injuries and/atalities is called into question by data
of the costs and benefits 0/the reporting lawsfor children (p. 58). Soon after
the expansion o/reporting laws. an assault onfederalfu.ndingfor health and
welfare services began. CoerCive services were increasing while voluntarily
ones were decreasing (Hut chinson, 1993, p. 61).

Mandated reporting laws were also predicated on the assumption that child
,
maltreatment is a classless phenomenon unrelated to issues o/income
,
distribution (Hutchison 1993, p. 57). However, the assumption of classlessness
of abuse has been challenged by o ther authors (Pelton, 1989; Wexler, 1995).
C onsiderabl e evidence exists of a strong relationship between poverty and child
abuse and n egle c t Wexler (1995) prov ides ample el,Jidence for the hypothesis
.

that. in perhaps the majority of cases, poverty is confused with neglect and that,
in those cases, the services that are needed to solve the problem are not
counseling and parent education, but baby si tting day care, and other
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supportive services (pp. 47-58).

Robin (1991) points out that the author of child abuse legislat ion U/alter
,

Mondale, feared that the legislation would be blocked if il wa s viewed as a


poverty program, or if the problem was conceived as being confined
predominantly to the poor (p. 3). On this basis, Mondale and his associates
argued that child abuse was not a poverty problem and argued in favor of a
"psychopathological model, in which theoretically the parent who abuses his or
"

her child suffers from some psychological disease which must be cured in order
to prevent further abuse" (p. 3-4).

6. ANONYMOUS REPORTING: There may not be any substance to the report of


alleged child abuse. Any stranger can report any other person for anything, with
or without basis. Anonymous reporting is permitted under state laws, although
Oklahoma law does not explicitly state that anonymity is granted, although
immunity is currently assured to persons reporting tlin good faith. n

Any unknown person can call in a report of child abuse against a parent who
spanks a child in a market or store for abuse. Whitehead (1985) reported the
following case:

'j4 mother was shopping in a store. While standing in the check-out


line, she refused her three-year-old child's requestfor a candy bar. The
child threw a temper tantrum. The mother swatted the child several
times on the behind. She paidfor the items she bought by check.
Shortly after she arrived homet a social worker came to the house and
demanded to inspect the child/or possible marks and bruises. The
charge was child abuse. The mother was reported to the welfare
department by the store clerk, who obtained her address from the check"
(p. 158).

The child protective services will not release the name of the person making the
report, claiming confidentiality. and therefore determination of the source and
veracity 0/ the report is virtually impossible. Policies allOWing anonymous
reporting has turned the United States into a nation o!"nameless,jaceless
accusers." Any person in the United Stales can be reported for suspected child
abuse. with or wi th ou t substance. Anonymous reporting can be considered as a
"violation a/Constitutional rights." The Sixth A m endm ent of the Constitution of
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the United States allows us to ''face'' i.e.. confront our accu sers (Scott, 1994)
and "to be confron ted with the witnesses against him " (Commission on the
Bicentennial of the United Sta tes Constitution. p. 22). Child protective IO'NS
violate the "confrontation clause" of the Sixth Amendment.

The law in Oklahoma (O. S. 7103 D.l. O.S. Supp/. 1995. p. 296) has recently
been changed 10 state that any person who knOWingly and Willfully makes a
false report (of child abuse) may be reported by the Department ofHuman
Services to local law enforcement for criminal investigation and upon
conviction thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. However, professionals
have not been informed about the possibility. nor has the public been informed
Few if any cases offalse reports have been forwarded to law enforcement
offiCials.

7. IMMUNITY FOR MANDATED REPORTERS: Elsewhere Oklahoma law


(OK 10 Sec. 7105) states that any person-who reports which suspected child
abuse "in go od faith and exercising due care" is granted immunity nom any
liability.

Due process ojlaw also guarantees each United States citizen the right to take
legal action against any person, i.e., "to sue any U.S. citizenjor 'unlawful
deprivation of any constitutional. statutory. or administrative right'" and "to use
the Constitution and case law as a defense" (Scott. 1994; p. 141), but current
child protective agency policies disallow the identification of the persons
making reports. The rationalization that child protective agencies give is that
the information is "confidential.n

Immunity from liability is required by Federal law. The immunity from liability
is also a violation of due process, since citizens are, by law, afforded the
opportunity to seek legal recourse against any person. Scott (1994) reported
that even when the San Diego County Grand Jury attempted to investigate the
child protective service, the Grand Jury was blocked The child protective
agency claimed "confidentiality" and failed to cooperate with the Grand Jury
inquiry. The jury concluded that "this lack ofcooperation with the Grand Jury
exemplifies the mind-set in which (the child protective service) operates.
Closed courtrooms, confulentillljiles, lind total statutory immunity crellte lin
attitude unbecoming 1111 agency purportedly serving the best interests ofthe
community" (cited in Scott. J 994. p. 142).

Hopkins. who led the San Diego County Grand Jury in vestigat ions commented
,

in her testimony to the United States House Subcommittee on Early Childhood.


Youth, and Families, that ''foar of the child protection system now infects all o.l
American society (p. 2).

Hopkinsfurther noted the axiom that:


"Power CO"Uptf.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
"Absolute immunity is absolute power" (p. 2)

in theory, it might be possible, under the present law, to prove that the report
was made "in bad faith, but the burden to prove bad faith would rest on the
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defendant to prove his/her innocence. In reality, attempting to prove "bad


faith" is Virtually impossible, particularly in light of anonymous reporting,
confidential jiles and closed court records.
,

8. FRIVOLOUS AND MALICIOUS REPORTING: Any person can make a report


oft'suspected child abuselt to the Department of Human Services, either for
legitimate� malicious, or frivolous reasons.

in many cases, an angry spouse, fiancee. or neighbor may make a report with
vengeful motives. In the "investigation" process. the possible motives of the
person making the allegation or accusation are not investigated and the
credibility of the person who is making the report is not evaluated. In some
cases, the person making the report has a history of making false accusations
in other circumstances or has a history o/psychiatric disturbance. yet those
Jacts are no t considered.

The rate of unsubstantiated reports of abuse in child custody matters is


remarkably high. A spouse or an ex-spouse who wants custody has the "ultimate
weapon" to use to secure custody or to do damage to that individual. Statistics
indicate that the percentage of al/egations of abuse which occur during child
custody disputes ranges from J 5% to 79%. (Call. 1994).

Only recently hove laws in Ok lahoma included a possible fine of $5000 against
a parent who knOWi n gly makes Q false allegation of abuse during the process of

a divorce dispute. To date, the penalty has not been implemented. A study
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/ validation was "lack ofproof' (p. 56). Limited child protective
service resources are wasted and many persons' lives are des troyed in the
process ofgovernment intrusion into the lives o/children andfamilies. The
careless waste of child protective service r eso urc es prevents those r esources
from being directed to cases which rea lly need attention and intervention.

9. RISKS OF "KNEE-JERK" REPORTI�G OF SUSPECTED ABUSE: Mental


health practitioners are trained about mandated reporting� but not about the risks
of "knee-j erk" reporting, without thoughtful consideration. Ris ks include
potential damage to the thera peutic relati onship, liability risks, major risks of
damage to families where intervention by the State is needless, and risks to the
autonomy of the children and parents involved. Some liability risks are present
for mental health professionals who report suspected child abuse without
s ufficient c onsideration .

Hutchison (1993) stated clearly that "investigation ofa report of child


maltreatment is not an innocuous intrusion into family life" (p. 60). By the time
that an investigation is complete, the family has had to cope with anxieties
provoked by the investigative process. The report is not likely to be expunged
from the m ind of the family. In reality, the report will never be expungedfrom
the famil y and the family will be irreparably harmed by state intrusion.
Besharov (1985) reported over 10 years ago thaI 500.000families were
investig ated annua//yjOr reports that are not substantiated. In J 990. Besharov
(1990) estimated that 700,OOO/amiUes in the United States underwent
investigations of unfounded child abuse reports.

Since child maltreatment reports have increased by at least 60 percent since


1985 and 25 percent since 1990, an estimated 900,000 families could be
subje cted to s tate intrusion annual/y_ Another source indicated that 3000
familie s are destroyed daily by state intrusion. Hagen (1997) documents the
huge expense to the government involved in investigation and prosecution of
these cases, which she has referred to as Q child weI/are "industl'y" (p. 228).
One case, the McMartin preschool case in California cost the taxpayers $15
millio n and six years to litigate, resulting in acquittals of the Buckeys on 52
counts of child ab use (Hagen, 1997; p. 232).

Families can be destroyed by false reporting (Family Research Council. 1994;


pp. 41-47). C onsiderable social stigma is experienced by any person who is
accused ofchild abuse. with resulting Joss of reputation, social status, money,
.
or em ploymen t A child abuse report is an explici t accusation of the parents'
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fai lur e of their obligation to protect and nurture the child (Robin, 1985; p. 24).
Faller (1985) note d that to be accused of child abuse can resu l t in considerable
str ess, loss of confidence� fear of losi ng their children, and anger at those
perc eived as being responsible for the report. According to Garfinkle's (1956)
theory, a child abuse allegation is as much about a person's character and
moral status as it is abou t what the person mig h t have done (cited in Ro bin :
1985. p. 24).

Child protective agencies work as a "cult. " wh ich 'frequently destroys fa m ilies
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by separating parents from children. thus breaking the fam ily bonding, '

subjecting them to terrorism. Kan garoo Courts, unjust trials, the use of biased
opinion rather than evidence, and crus h ing a!amily'sjinances" (NASVO. Fe b.
1997. p. 7). Families are needlessly dragged thr ough court proceedings and
are subjected tofinancially� SOCially, and psychologically devastating State
intervention (Rabinowitz, 1997).

Mental health practitioners are not schooled adequately about the fact that the
ther apeutic r elation s hip is likely to be de stroyed when an abuse report is filed,
i.e., the ther apeutic relations hip is replaced by Q "policing" relationship. The
ethical principle to respect client autonomy is involved in any child abuse
reporting consideration (Haas and Malouf, 1989).

While goodfaith immunityfrom liability is granted to profeSSionals who


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report suspected child abuse, some suc ces sful Jaw s uit s have been filed in
wh ich profeSSionals have been sued because of 'failure to inform " their clients
'

that they would report suspected child abuse (Nelson, J 997).

A report of suspected child abuse or neglect ca n destroy many lives and


should not be m ade without though tful consideration of the risks oferror on
both sides.

10. PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT MISUNDERSTOOD: Oklahoma


law says: "any person to knowingly and willfully fail to report .... shall be guilty
ofa misdemeanorlt (OK. 10 Sec. 7103. D.). In practice today, mental health
p ractitioners and other providers have a variety of conceptualizations of what
the penalty may be for non-reporting� felony, jail te� loss of license.

Failure to report a suspec ted case of abuse is not a felony. not likely a prison­
s e nte nce crime. nor is the practitioner like ly to lose his/her license. Intimidation
0.(profeSSionals with the prospec t of loss of license spurs additional reports,
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made without true "reason." Giovannoni (1985) reported that social workers
reported that agency professionals sometimes make reports because they didn't
want to provide servicesfor a famity or they reported ind iscriminately just to
,

ensure they have met their obligation under the mandated reporting
requirement.

11. CHILD ABUSE CENTRAL REGISTRY: Any call to the Department of Human
Services or Child Protective Services can and is likely to result in an entry of the
"perpetrator" as a t'suspected child abuser" into the child abuse registty. In
Florida, the name remains on the registry for 7 years. In Oklahoma, the law
states that the name will remain on the registry ·'permanently." In other states
the length of time that the name remains is SO years.
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Most people do not know that, on the basis of an accusation a/one, their names l

will be entered in the child abuse regi stry as if they had beenjound to be guilty
,

ofch ild abuse. Information contained in the "child abuse registry is assumed to
"

synonymous with guilt Or having been convicted of child abuse. whereas that is
not in fact true.

The entry of a persons' name into the child abuse registry has no connection
with a judicial procedure, so that the entry is made immediately. jar before any
judicial hearing is held Even if a court action takes place and the person is able
.

10 prove himself or herself to be "nol guilty, " his/her name remains on the
registry.

Other agencies, such as the bureau o/investigation, school system, day-care


faci lities, police. etc. can access Child Abuse Central Registry information and
use it in making determination o/whether Q person should be granted a job or
be retained in a jo b The entry 0/ a person's name in the child abuse registry
.

has resulted in numerous people beingfiredfromjobs, to be excluded from an


occupation, and to lose a variety of civil liberties.

The mere entry of a person's name into a child abuse registry can be conSidered
legally slanderous and defaming of character, socially stigmatizing and ,

psychologic ally de v as tating The entry of an indiVidual s name into the child
. '

abuse central registry in essence finds the person guilty without any ju dicial
p roceedings .
"Child abuse registries" have been challenged in several states andfou n d
unconstitutional. In Florida (TCA 90-40069-MMP)I a law suit filed by Jerry
and Karen Pitts sought damages and i nju nctive re lieffor Violations of due
process rights resulting from the placement of their names in Florida's child
abuse registry. In a lawsuit against Florida's child protection agency. the
Department ofHealth and Rehabilitative Services, the Pitts, as pla int iffs argu e d
against the DHRS Secretary, Koler. The Pitts' lawsuit alJeged that Koler was
personally respon sib le for entry of the Pitts' name in the child abuse registry
an d failure to remove the ir name. Koler used a "qualified immunity defense. "

In hearing this case, the Florida Court found the child abuse registry to be
'racially unconstitutional" since it does not prOVide the procedural safeguards
or due process andfound that Kaler "knew or should have known that his
actions would violate the constitution, (so that) qualified immunity is defeated
and persona l liability attaches. "

The case was settled out of court with the State paying $70,000 to the persons
.

affected by the wrongful decisions The Office of the Attorney General of


.

Florida issued an alert indicating that the Department of Health and


Rehabilitative Services cannot "hide behind its veil of statutory confidential ity "
(Appellate Alert, March 22, 1994). Confidentiality was referred to by the
First District Court of Appeals as ''patently illusory. "

In Virginia, the process 01 keeping datil against people accused of child abuse
withou t cases ever having been proven has been determ ined unlawful by the
Virginia Court of Appeals (Hsu, 1995). Specifically, the practice of listing
"reason to suspect" cases was determined to be unlawful. As a result, 2830
com p l aints , involving 4108 children were scheduled to be destroyedfrom that

central registry system.

The Central Registry has recently been challenged in several states and has
been found to be unconsti tu tional, on the basis of the fact that there is no way
to rem ove one's name, the presence of a persons name is stigmatizing. and
names are entered even when no child abuse was substantiated States which
retain names indefinitely may become liable.
r

I
!

12. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT MISCONSTRUED: Parents who exercise even


mild corporal punishment� particularly if they do so in public, are likely to be
reported for suspected child abuse.

Across the United Slates, parents generally have the legal right to discipline
their children by using reasonable corporal punishment (Rutherford Institute.
Legal Brief on Parental Rights: Corporal Punishment, 1994). This right,
however, is not absolute and may be subject to scrutiny and restriction by the ..
statee The limits ofthe parental privilege to use corporal punishment cannot be
easily defined.

Twenty-nine slates, including Oklahoma. continue to recognize


the common law rule of parental privilege. Oklahoma law (Oklahoma Statutes
Annotated 12 Sec. 643(4) 1994) indicates that parents may use corporal
punishment , i.e., that spanking is allowed. According to the Rutherford Institute,
in general juries do not find (parental use of corporal) punishment to be
excessive where the parent spanks a child/or disciplinary reasons (p. 2).
However, the unwritten "law" oj the child protective service or Department of
Human Services (DHS) considers spanking to be child abuse. DHS social
workers may make a determination of "child abuse, " when actually only
reasonable discipline was being exercised. Many ofthe personnel working in
child protective services impose their own definition ofspanking as child abuse
onto their clients' lives. Robin (1991) ide ntified "investigators who pursue an
agenda" as the first of Q list ofJactors which may lead to errors in child abuse
investigations (p. 18).

13. WARRANTLESS SEARCHES: Social workers often go to the homes of persons


who have been reported for suspected child abuse and demand entry to the
home. They also demand to talk to other children in the home. In some
instances� the social worker obtains a police escort, requiring that police
accompany them and support their determinations.

The entry into the home constitutes a "warrantless search," since no search
warrant has been obtained to search the home. to interview the people in the
home. or to inspect the condition of the home. In many cases, the parents are
pressured to allow social workers to interview all of the children, not just the
child or children about whom a report of suspected abuse ;s made. The social
workers may strip search the child or children, not con sidering the trauma that
¥10

this causes to the child and in utter disregardfor the rights of the parents to
oversee and protect their children. Ifa pe rson declines adm iss io n 10 the social
worker, that person is thought to be "hiding something" which is assumed to
be proof ofguilt. Scott (1994; pp. 1 3 7-1 41) discusses illegal search and seizure.

This warrantless searching constitutes violation o/Constitutional righ ts, i. e. ,


the Fourth Amendment right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers_
and effects (Co m m ission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution,
p. 22).

Warrantless searches have been the topiC oflegal controversy, reaching all the
way to the Supreme Court. Much of the discussion hasfocused on the
"instrumentalities, " or evidence ofcrime (Lafave, 1972. p. 20). The same
author notes that "the right to be secure in the privacy ofone 's home against
arbitrary governmental intrusions lies 'at the core o/the Fourth Amendment'
and 'is basic to a free society'" (p. 28).

Social workers are legally not allowed to take the child into custody, but they
. often do so. In other Situations, the social worker(s) will request that a police
officer accompany them to the home and the social worker will order that the
police or law enforcement officer to take the child "into protective custody. "

immediately the parents are presumed to be guilty and are often threatened,
coerced, and intimidated Parental rights are essentially terminated by social
workers, who will not allow parents to be presentfor interviews and
examinations, who will not Jet parents know the outcome ofthose interviews.
and who will also not tell parents where their children are being taken or who
will be in charge of caringfor their children.

One mother commented that, when the so cial wo rker left with her child, the
mother did not have a business cardfor the social worker. a telephone number
ofa supervisor to contact about her son, an appointmentfor further interviews.
or any documentation o/where her son was to be taken. Yet, they had her Ion!

When questions are asked ojsocial workers regarding their methods of


operation, they point the finger at the police department or law enforcement.
When persons in law enforcement are questioned, they point the finger at the
child protective service social wo rke rs. Testimony to the effect that social
workers request that law e nforcemen t go with them and askfor entry into a
home, if the social workers are not allowed to see the childre n was offered in the
Calab retta v. Floyd and others case (CIV S-95-0345 LKK). In arriving at the P

legal decision, the court cited Supreme Courtjindings that the standard of
reasonableness governing any class ofsearches requires "balancing the need to
search against the invasion which the search entails " (p. 2 7). The court
determined that whether the social workers andpolice officers "intentionally
and pervasively coerced entry i11to the home during child abuse investigations
in violation ofFourth A mendm en t " rights was Q tr ia ble issue (p. 3 7).

1 4. SEIZING THE CHILDREN WITHOUT DUE PROCESS: The standard of


practice for child protective service has been to "take the child into protective
custodylJfI without careful investigation and without weighing the trauma that
false-removal can cause to the cbild., as well as to the parents. The child is
routinely removed from the parentst custody, without a judicial hearing, before
a petition of abuse has been filed, and without due process of law .

Children are not allowed to contact their parents or any other family member. No
notice is given to the parents. The children are first placed in a youth shelter and
then are moved to foster care. The child may go through a series of foster care
placements.

The axiom 10 "err on the side of caution " assumes that removing the child/rom
the home ofhis ofher parents is the most cautious action. Child protective
agency policy states that they " err on the side of caution, " which means "to yank
the child out o/the home " (Scott, 1994. p. 1 01). Such action/ails to consider
that children are 10 times more likely to be injured in/oster care than in their
own biological home. The knee-Jerk removal of the child does not consider the
. ,
emotional trauma to the child the finanCial cost oflegal involvement. the social
cost to th e fam ily and to society. Children emotionally experience the removal
as "kidnapping. "

Little or no concern is given to the negative impact that being removed/rom the
home has on the child In most cases, the child ;s given no information about
the reason /or being removed. is not allowed to have contact with his 07 her
parents and may be traumatized by removalfrom his or her home. From the
standpoint of the child the removal by strangers who will not allow the child
10 contact his/her parents is akin to kidnapping. No regard is shown/or
" children's rights" 0/ consortium with theirfamilies. When an adult is arrested
andjailed. he/she has the righ t to contact!am ily or an Qttorney. When adult
mental health patients are hospitalized involuntarily, their rights to contact
family members are protected Children 's rights, when they are seized by DRS.
have no protection whatsoever. The system which supposedly is es tablished to
protect children does not accomplish its major goal .

During this time, the child may be shiftedfrom one Joster home to another, then
placed in institutional settings. The child may be interviewed 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 may
also be interview numerous times by a variety ofpeople, from social workers, to
therapists, to district attorneys, to doctors.

The child may react to the trauma of being removed with a variety of
symptoms, t i. e., sleep difficulty. regression to bed- wetting. crying, nightmares.
etc. The system-induced symptoms of trauma to the child then are interpreted as
further evidence ofabuse The child is often "medicated"for a psychiatric
diagnosis, such as anxiety disorder. depression, attention deficit disorder. or
post traumatic stress disorder. The child is, in fact. medicatedfor a condition
which was caused by the State 's ill-founded intervention.

The system actually produces "iatrogenic " harm. Another medical term which
has been used to described the harm which is actually produced by the DRS
system is "nosocomial" abuse. where in fact the system which was intended to
protect the childfrom abuse produces the abuse (San Diego County Grand
Jury, Report No. 8. 1992: p. 19). Child protective system workers generally
ignore the fact that every child is traumatized by separation from his parents,
and such action should only occur ifa child is in clear and evident danger
(ScOtlt 1994, p. 102). Fam ilies 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 allowed to contact their parents. Adults who are
involuntarily detained have legal rights to contact legal representation and to
have contact withfamily, but children are denied these legal rights and are
allowed no communication with their families whatsoever. The rationalization is
given by the child protective agency that they are ''protecting'' the children , but
in the process the child is subjected to "nosocomial abuse. " or abuse from the
system which was set up to protect them (San Diego County Grand Jury,
Report No. 8. 1992, p. 1 9).
The indiscriminate removal of children b urdens the foster care system. results i n
exagge r ated claims of the problem m agnitude, and huge government
expenditure.

Meanwhile, the child has been seized without court order or due process of
law. A social worker or law enforcem ent office r cannot come to your home and
take possession ofyour car or your stereo. But they can come to your home
and take possession ofyour child.

I S . SEIZURE OF CHILDREN FROM SCHOOLS: Social wo�kers from child


protective service often seize the child from the school, not notifYing the parents
that the child is being taken. Children are often seized at school, with no
knowledge of where they are being taken. Parents are not notified by the child
protective agency or by the school that the child has been seized.

When the parent(s) come to get the child at the end of the school day, they have
no idea where the child is or where the child has been taken. When parents
make phone calls to the police or to child protective service, they are denied
any information abo ut where the child has been taken. Sometimes it is several
days before phone calls are returned to parents from child protective service
social workers to notify the parent(s) that the child has been taken.

Parental rights are effectively terminated without legal process, Since the
parents are denied their rights to know what the child has stated (often under
duress or dur ing improper interviewing), where the child has been taken, who
is responsible for the care of the child, what the condition of the child is,
when the child will be returned

1 6. OBTAINING INFORMATION WITH NO PROTECTION OF LEGAL


RIGHTS: Statements are taken from children or from other persons, without
them being infonned or knowledgeable that their statements will become part of
judicial procedures. Parents are not informed that their children are being
interviewed, which often takes place in schools or day-care settings. Parents are
questioned in quasi-legal investigations, but they are not informed oftbeir
rights . On the contrary, they are misled by social workers who teU parents that
It
the child protective agency "wants to help.

Interviewing children without securing parental consent is a violation o/both


"h .... -a-,. _4.,.' __ A t.L.12 "'h .. ldr�IIt '/I'W ""igL.'I< 1M nffi" ...t t l.L1I
, ,e; P I e;'IIil """ FI(; &.,1 U (; 11 '" I I I U"' .I. " (;.1. (; &., t 1 1(; pa1-e1n"JQ"I "_.0'1..

111:< -'lM­
b'''' � Uf c;

terminated by social workers and teachers at this point, since they are denied
access 10 information which their children have rep o rted they are not allowed
, �

to talk with persons who have interviewed their children, and they are not
allowed to appoint an attorney for the child. No legal process has taken place to
deny the parents access to th eir children or to the records/inform ation
pertaining to their ch ildren .

When parents are interviewed, they are not given their Miranda R igh ts. But the
Justification is made that parents do not need to be informed of their Miranda
Rights, because they have never been charged with anything. However, if
parents are not informed that statements that they make can be used against
them in a court oflaw, that they have the right to an attorney, or that they can
refuse to answer the questions which are posed to them.

Situations have taken place in which people were told that they should come to
DBS to give information on employm ent and insurance, but when they arrived
police officers were waiting to arrest them. Many people ar.e m isled by
statements that the Department of Human Services "wants to help. " Parents are
discouraged/rom exercising their legal rights by social workers who tell them
that they "do not need an attorney. " Several other sources presently advise
parents that they should retain an attomey and should refuse to talk with social
workers without the attorney present (NASVO, 1 996; Whitehead, 1 985). The
entire child protective system operates as a quasi-legal system, operating
outside of the law (Scott, 1994; p. 1 42) .

11'1 a few cases, the parent(s) will consult an attorney, but these are the rare
exceptions. In many cases, the persons accused have limitedfinancial
resources and do not understand how DHS works. They are appalled at the
fact that DRS can operate outside ofthe law.

1 7 . INDIRECT ACCUSATION WITHOUT SPECIFYING LEGAL CHARGES:


When a child abuse report is made most often the parents are considered to be
responsible. By considering the matter a juvenile matter, no charges are made
against the parents directly. The child is seized and taken in so-called
II
"protective custody.

However, parents are i mplicitly accused of child abuse and will later be held to
answer fo r the crime ofchild abuse, but no charges are filed against them , in
further violation of due process. In juvenile courts, parents are "held to
answer"for the infamous crime of child abuse, but are never charged.
}i
The fact that parents are "held to annver" required to defend themselves for
such a heinous crime is a violation o/Fifth Amendment Constitutional rights�
Judges rationalize that the parents have "due process, " by indicating that the
paren t may have ajury trial, but in fact there has b e en no charge made against
the parent to be tried. Parent(s) are neverformally charged with the crime of
child abuse, never served with a subpoena, never formally notified of their legal
,
rights not allowed to face accusers, not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses
against them, not allowed to exam documents pertaining to the innocence or
guilt o/the parents. not allowed in court to admit defense evidence, yet they are
"held to answer"!or a charge which has never been made.

Attorneys who attempt to defend parents are barredfrom presenting a case,


due to the fact that the Department ofHuman Serv ices will not allow the
defense attorney access the child, to the interview notest to the social workers
or other persons who did the interviewing, to medical records or to any other
information which might be helpful to defend the client. .

Social workers claim that the information they have is "confidential, "judges
support the stone-walling of defense attempts. and effectively their parental
rights are terminated. Any person, including the parent, the parent's attorney.
the legislative representative of the parent, even the Governor of the State, are
denied access to any records maintained by DHS. while DHS claims that its
.
files are confiden tial At times, even the director of the Department ofHuman
Services has been denied access to records.
The parents may be accused of child abuse or neglect without ever having been
.
inte rviewed They are not informed that they should have an attorney present.
Rather than being told that they have the right to have an attomey present, they
are often told that they do not need an attorney.

1 8. IMPROPER INTERVIEWING : Children can be interviewed numerous times,


by a variety of persons including teachers, school counselors, social workers3
police officers, sheriffs, district attorneys, judges, etc. There are incidents in
which children have been coerced into making an allegation against their
parents, which various bribes, deceptions, coercion, and reinforcements being
offered, either knowingly or unknowingly, by the interviews.

Social science research reveals that repealed interviewing runs the risk of
influencing the child, suggesting information to the child about events which
,
did not take pla ce and traum atizing the child. Through repeated inte rviewing.
children can actually learn what the interviewing adults want them to say
(Adams, 1995; Cec; and Bruck, 1995) . Among the improper interviewing
meth odologies which are routinely used in suspecte d child abuse cases are
repeated, biased, suggestive, leading, and coercive methods. Such methods
have been ide ntified in many of the famous day-care center cases. m a ny of
which are being over-turned. However, the tax-payer costfor prosecution o..f
these cases has been in the millions. Innocent people have been incarcerated
for years in these cases (see Ceci and Bruck. 1 995).

Improper interviewing methodologies produce inac cu ra te results; interviewers


can inadvertently mold an allegation of abuse where none occurred: children
are traumatized by improper inteMJiewing; entire families are destroyed in the
process. Improper methods of "investigation " result in the accused person being
effective ly found "guilty " without any legal action b eing taken.

A ny person who interviews a child, whether it is a teacher. counselor, parent,


friend, can contaminate the information obtainedfrom the child. People are
not informed about the likelihood ofcontamination from improper questioning
ofchildren. Professionals are not properly trained in interviewing methods and
some interviews themselves become ''psychologically abusive. "

In one case recently. II. social worker inte"ogated II J.year oldfor 2 hours
with no breaks, until the child WIIS huddling in the comer, whimpering, and
s"cking on her finger tips. The social worker concluded that the child was
exhibiting regresswe behavior that was indicative ofsexual abuse by her
father. The real abuse clime Ilt the hands olthe social worker conducting the
inte"oglltion and the bitter ex-wife who watched the process through a two­
way mi"or.

19. BIASED INTERVIEWING: Most "investigators" in the field of child abuse


allegations have been trained that "children never lie," despite the mounting
evidence that the rate of false reports ranges perhaps as high as 80%.

If the interviewer approaches the interview with the a priori notion that abuse
has occurred. then that inte rviewer is not an objective interviewer. Interviews
conducted by persons who have a distinct confirmatory bias look onlyfor
evidence to confirm their a priori notion (Ceci and Bruck. 1995). Social science
literature shows that when interviewers have pre conce iv ed ideas they
system atic ally ignore all evidence which w ould not co nfirm their a priori
r

idea and accept only those statements and behavio rs which will confirm their�
previous ideas. They also are likely to interpret insignificant or neutral behavior
as indicative ofabuse. The effects of this confirmatory bias have been
documented in social sc ience lite rature .

Similar findings o/ investigator bias were noted in th e San Diego County G rand
Jury in vestigatio ns which noted that social workers and the rapists assumed that
,

the father was guilty of moles tation ignoring other evidence that would have
,

exonerated the father and identified another party (San Diego County Grand
Jury. Report No. 6, 1 992, pp 9-1 1). An expe rt in the Alicia W. case testified that
.

"the child's therapist is only fo cu sing on the father as the perpetrator not
allowing the child to 'really tell the story'" (p. 18).

Overzealous interviewers (Gardner, 1991) approach the interviewing with the


objective of validating the abuse. not as neutral fact gatherers " implying that
" " e ,

they are merely there to 'validate' what everybody knows happened anyway " (p.
48). Gardner states that many of the persons who are investigating child abuse,
particularly child sexual abuse cases, are "ill-qualified and incompetent people "
who are "trained by others ofquestionable qualifications " (p. 47). Gardner
indicates that no matter how preposterous the allegation, no matter how absurd,
these examiners will believe them. A complete discussion of "validators"jills
n umerous pages (pp. 45-89).

The social .science literature is b eginn ingto expose the highly improper
investigative te chniq ues an d interviewing m e thodologies, with numerous cases
being over-turned and ch arges dropped (Ceci and Bruck, 1 995; Hagen, 1997).
Unfor tunately often the parents have spent years injail or prison, have spent
,

tens of thousands ofdollars in legal fees, and have experienced irreparable


harm in their lives. One case in Califo rnia cost the State $15 million to try, with
the result that all of the defendants were acquitted (Hagen, 1997).

20. TAINTED HEARSAY TEST IMONY: Professionals are untrained about the
dangers to their hearsay testimony if they do not interview properly, do not
record their interviews, and do not have a mechanical reproduction of all
interviews . Most states do not have a requirement that audio or videotape
records of interviews should be made of all interviews and some states have
ordered that no mechanical record be made to preserve the Department of
Human Service's interest, not the child's best interest.

Some social science literature and legal literature indicates that if interviews
are not recorded they should be presumed to be inaccurate, since the
interviewers questioning. notes, and memory have all been shown to lack
accuracy (Adams. 1996: McGough, 1 995).

Under current law. mental health professionals including social workers are
allowed to provide hearsay testimony, provided that their testimony has
particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. There is mounting social science
and legal evidence that social workers' and mental health professionals '
testimony lacks the particularized guarantees of trustworthiness and therefore
should not be admissible.

When interviews are not conducted properly, they can become the basis of
tainted hearsay (Adams, 1 996). According to McGough (1995), the hearsay
testimony o/mental health experts. social workers, doctors, and others is
subject to the four dangers of

ambiguity: the danger that the meaning intended by the declarant (i.e.. ,
the child) will be misinterpreted by the (mental health) witness
faulty memory: the danger that the (mental health) declarant will simply
forget key material
misperception: the danger that the (mental health) declarant misjudged,
misinterpreted, or misunderstood what he or she heard (or saw)
lack of candor: the danger that the (mental health) declarant will
conSCiously lie (p. 3 74-3 75).

A more complete discussion of the dangers of inaccuracy in mental health


experts ' and social workers' hearsay testimony has been published by this
author (Adams, 1996). Although the consideration that social workers would
conscientious lie is frightening indeed, such instances are known to exist!

Cases have been known where a physicia.n who had never examined a child,
not seen pictures of the child. and not even reviewed a diagram of the child's
appearance was allowed to in court give his opinion to a social worker, who
then in turn was allowed to testify under hearsay exceptions.

When interviewing methods are improper and testimony is inaccurate. then


the hearsay exceptions which are allowedfor mental health profeSSionals
should not apply, i. e., the hearsay lacks the particularized guarantees of
trustworthiness. Ironically in some cases prosecution hearsay is allowed into
I
t::
f
{t

court, as admissible, but defense hearsay is barred (San Diego County Grana
Jury, Report No. 6, 1992, p. 35). The practice ofadmitting prosecution hearsay
while disallowing defense hearsay is far more widespread than any judicial
oversight committee should allow.

A t least three authors have documented the motivation o/monetary gain/or


social workers and other investigators ofallegations of child sexual abuse
(Dawson, 1996; Gardner, 1991. p. 87-88; Hagen 1997, pp. 215-21 6).
,

While Oklahoma does not include "taint hearings " in the judicial process, other
states do. These "taint hearings " are in tended 10 determine if the evidence or
testimony is tainted prior to that testimony being admitted in a court oflaw. In
Oklahoma, the closest approximation ofa "taint hearing" is an ''Allen hearing. "
In the future, taint or Allen hearings need to be held more often to determine if
hearsay testimony is admissible.

2 1 . LACK OF THOROUGHNESS AND SKILL IN INVESTIGATION: Social


workers are placed in the role of investigators, but they are poorly trained� over­
worked, uninformed and sometimes non-objective. They have not been trained,
as police officers and investigators are trained, to completely document
findings, to preserve evidence, and to respect legal rights.

In addition to the improper interviewing methods which are used to extract or


elicit so-called "testimony"from children, investigations which are supposedly
conducted by child protection workers are faulty. In many cases, they lack
thoroughness, are conducted by poorly trainedpersonnel, who at the same time
cannot devote sufficient time to the investigations. Such investigators often
approach child abuse allegations with II priori decisions that abuse has
occurred, rather than being neutral investigators.

Investigation methods have been questioned by several authors (Gardner. 1 991;


Hagen. 1 99 7; eeci and Bruck, 1995). In the process of conducting the
"investigation" improper interviewing methods actually destroys the eVidence.
i. e the testimony ofthe child. making determination o/what really occurred
.•

virtually impossible (Adams, 1 996). Among the common errorsfound in child


abuse investigations, summarized by Robin (1991. p. 18) were the/ollowing:

1. Investigators who pursue an agenda.


2. Failure to obtain an adequate psycho-social and psycho-sexual history
ofthe child and the/amily.
3. Failure to interview all of those involved in the allegation .

- 4. Failure to inquire aboutfamily attitudes and practices regarding


privacy, nudity, and sexuali ty.
5. Misinterpretation o/ m edi ca/findings.
6. In adequate time spent with the child and too many prolonged
interrogations of the child.
7. The use of biased. either/or. coercive, repetitive, or age inapp rop riate
questions.
8. Interviewing techniques that introduce leading or educational
materials.
9. Differential reinforcement of the child's responses in an interview.
J O. Selective reinforcement of the child's behavior.
1 1. Failure to understand the nature of the allegations.

By-tn-large, investigators ofsuspected child abuse cases hold the unwarranted


assumption that "children never lie " about whether they have been abused. That
assumption is unwarranted and a sizable body ofscientific literature reveals
that children can produce inaccurate information under a variety of conditions
(Adams. 1995). Adolescents have learned quickly that they can allege that a
parent who tries to discipline them is abusing them and secure transfer either
into state custody or to the non disciplining parent. They have found that they
..

can manipulate the system to get what they want, such as going to live with a
parent who is lax in discipline, lets teenagers actively engage in sex, do drugs,
and have no responsibility.

A distinct "confirmatory bias " has been identified in the investigative methods
used in suspected child abuse cases, such that no other hypotheses are
considered other than the hypothesis that abuse occurred and data which would
support other hypotheses is discounted and ignored

A t the same time. investigators ofsuspected child abuse cases often subject
children to repeated. leading and even coercive questioning, which can not only
traumatize the child, but produce inaccurate results. Howevert social workers
with little training in interviewing methods are allowed to conduct interviews.
testify in court with expanded hearsay rulings. and to, in essence. convict an
accused person with testimony which was improperly obtained.
r
r
I

t
't)
In addition. interviewers rely on unproven methods of investigation, i. e. .
hypnosis age-regression, anatomical dollsl drawings, and projective techniques
without understanding the limitations a/ these methods and their particular
risks with children o/various age groups.

Records of the results ofinterviews have been substantially questioned as


well, with a major lawsuit aga inst the child protective agency in Texas alleging.
among other things, investigative impropriety and falsification o/records
(Dawson, 1996; McGough, 1995). Several states are now passing legislation
requiring videotaping ofall interviews with children and imposing possible
penalties on social workers who fail to fulfill investigative duties properly
,
(NASVO. 1997, p. l). While afew statest i. e. , Texas. Cali/omia, are moving
toward videotaping ofall interviews with children. the vast majority ofstates do
not have such legislative or policy requirements for documentation of
interviewing.

Recent efforts at team investigation have been an improvement, hut the


questions ofconfirmatory bias, conflict 0/interest, and lack ofproper
documentation have not been answered

22. ASSERTIONS OF INNOC E NCE CONSTRUED AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT:


During the investigation of an allegation of abuse, although the presumption of
guilt is made, interviews with various persons are conducted. In most cases, the
mother, referred to as the "non-offending parent," and the child are interviewed.
In some cases; the child protective social worker interviews the father, who is
"
referred to as the "offending parent or "perpetrator. " However, in a fair number
of cases the father is not interviewed and his point of view is never considered.

The San Diego County GrandJury (Report No. 8, J992 pp. J -3) reported that,
particularly in alleged child molestation cases, if the accused person asserts
that he (or she, but most often he) is innocence, that assertion ;s interpreted as
"denial" and is, ironically. taken as evidence ofguilt. Hopkins, Chairperson of
the San Diego County Grand Jury stated that:

"unlike any other area of our judicial system, in Juvenile Court the
alleged perpetrator olin-house molest does not have to be proven guilty
in order to achieve a true finding. . . . Once the system musters suffiCient
cause 10 suspe ct molest, the child becomes a ward o/the system and the
family is fo rced to comply with its dictates or suffer the Joss of the child"
(p. 2).
A truefinding is, of course, a conclusion that child molestation did occur. The �

loss of the child to which Hopkins referred is the permanent /ass of the child,
when parental rights are terminated and the child is placed up for ado ption .

Hopkins further explains that "if the father denies (that he molested the child)
and a true finding is made, he suffers the ultimate Catch 22- h e can either admit
(that he molested the child, even ifh e d idn 't) and ,ake a chance that the (child
protection) department will allow him to begin reunification with his family or
he can (continue be truthful and) deny and no reunification will occur (p. 2).

But the irony. documented in the San Diego County Grand Jury (Report No. 8,
1992. p. 2) does not end there. Ifthe spouse supports her husband 's assertion of
innocence1 i. e. t denial. she is charged with "accommodating his denial. " It is
reasoned then that ifshe accommodates this alleged denial, she cannot be
trusted to protect the child and she too can not be allowed to reunify with the
child. Even when the mother believes the molest occurred and wants to protect
the child, a current assertion from child abuse workers is that the mother must
have known all along and failed to protect the child. That then becomes
supposed reason to remove the childfrom the mother. In Oklahoma. mothers
of children alleged to have been abused are routinely intimidated by social
workers, 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 custody of her child. In some cases, the mother is lold
that ifshe will divorce the father, the child will be returned immediately.

The San Diego County Grand Jury (Report No. 8, p. 2) also noted that, still
worse. if the child denies that molestation has taken place, this can be seen as
part o/the "child abuse accommodation syndrome " and an additional reason
why the child should have not contact with the parents. The child may be
diagnosed as multi-phasic, dissociative, Dr "in denial, " providing a pseudo­
explanation of why the child cannot remember the abuse, which has not
occurred in the first place. However, the "child abuse accommodation
syndrome " is coming under professional criticism.

Thus, all of the members of the family can deny a molest allegation and, in each
instance, the system uses the denial a/guilt as evidence of guilt (p. 3).

In recent years, legal chalJenges have been raised with regard to requiring
defendants to admit guilt. The Montana Court (State of Montana v. Imlay, 1 991)
re vie wed an earlier case, in which c01'!fessing to a crime, which one did n ot
in [act commit. is actually peljury. In this case, while an accused person 's �

assertion of innocence may be interpreted as denialt the person who did nol
commit the crime o/molestation must either truthfully assert innocence or
commit perjury by admission. in other words, if the pe rson did n o t molest the
child and, regardless of Circumstances, said that he did molest the child, he
would be committing perjury.

Many persons who are falsely accused 0/abuse strongly adhere to their
convictions of innocence, on general principle, or on the principle that they
must be role modelsjor their children oj "telling the truth. " Few persons
accused ofchild abuse have the presence ofmind during the accusation trauma
to consider the legal ramifications.

23 . BLACKMAILING PARENTS: KEEPING THE CHILD IN CUSTODY:


U sing the rationalization or justification that the child is being protected, the
child is held in State custody for an unspecified length of�e. After a short
time in a shelter, the child is likely placed in' foster care. A number of foster
care placements may be made, while parents are dragged through extensive
legal 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 returned to them. In court
proceedings, parents are "blackmailed" into stipulating to the charges against
them, because the State has their child. The rationalization is made that the
parents have a choice about whether to stipulate to the charges and that
parents' due process rights are not violated because they have the right to a jury
trial. The right to a jury trial is not the only due process right that should be
considered in this matter (Scott, J995). Most parents are told by their attorney,
if they are fortunate enough to have one, that they should "just do whatever the
State wants you to do. " Most parents do stipulate to the charges, which then is
counted statistically as a conviction and which/urther inflates already
inaccurate statistics.

While local lawyers may be reluctant to offer input, nationally some eVidence
of the manner in which defense attorneys handle child abuse and molestation
cases. The San Diego GrandJury (Report No. 8. 1992) reported that numerous
defense attorneys testified that they allow 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 reunification of the family and to avoid a trial. Defense
attorneys feel that it is in the client's best interest to avoid a trial because of
public se ntim ent about allegations of molest (p. 1 2) . The inves tigatio n of child
)"<

abuse cases, the l egal handling of such cases is "big business "for attorn eys and
mental health practit ioners. Hagen (199 7) estimates the cost ofsuch cases as
about $13 b illi on annually. Many mental health practitioners find child abuse
cases to provide a very lucrative b usi ness.

Some unfortunate persons who have chosen to go to jury trial have been
convicted of anywhere f rom 20 to 120 years in prison for an crime which did
not take place.

24. WHE ELS OF INJUSTICE SET IN MOTION : After the child has been in state
custody for a period ranging from 24 hours to about 72 hours, a judicial "show
causelt bearing is held in which the child is adjudicated as "neglected and
deprived" and now is legally in State Custody_ However, there have been cases
when no t'show cause" hearing was held, but the child was held in State custody
for almost two years.

in many cases. parents are not informed that a hearing about the custody of
their child will be held or they are told by social workers that this isjust a
form ality that the parents "don 't have to be there. " The failure to provide
information to parents about the nature of the hearing ;S Q procedural due
process violation.

Parents who often do not understand the legal process in which they are
p resen tly involved are often told by social workers that 'you don 't need an
anorney. " whereas they should be informed of their right to have an attorney
present. Parental ri ghts are effectively terminated, although no judicial hearing
to that effect has been held. The parents have 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 imposed, i. e. t parents may be "forced" to pay for
medical care for the child. From the point that the child is interviewed. through
all procedures, the parent is denied any right to know what the child has said,
who has inte rviewed the child, what questions have been asked of the child.
how the child has been treated, or whether or nat the child is be ing physically
examine d.

The parents are not allowed access to medical records, to hospital reports, to
pictures, nor to any other info rm ation pertaining to the child. The parent is
also not informed when the child is taken into custody, where the child is taken.
where the child will be housed or hospitalized, who is responsible for the care
(

I
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. often billedfor state-secured
medical care and some "counseling " and may also be assessed child support.

The legal process may drag on for years. swallowing up valuable months of
the child's lift and often damaging the parent-child relationship beyond repair.
The cost is, minimally. thousands of dollars. Families who do not have these
kind offinancial resources are treated most unjustly. Those who are ignorant
o/the system are caught up in itfor years. Reviews are set about every 6
months. a disproportionately long time in the life ofa 2 or .3 year old child.

Recently, in Texas, the child protective agency, called the Protective and
Regulatory Services (PRS) faced numerous changes as a result ofa "sunset
review. " Among the changes which are forthcoming as ofSeptember 1 , 1997,
the immunity ofPRS department employees is waived when

J) they commit or attempt 10 commit perjury


2) theyfabricate or attempt to fabricate evidence
3) they knowingly conceal or intentionally withhold information that
would establish that the accused did not commit child abuse, or
4) they violate stale orfoderal law in the investigation or prosecution of
a child abuse suit (NASVO, 1997, June. p. 1-2).

The San Diego County Grand Jury (Report No. 8, 1992) reported that the
prosecuting District A ttomey determined that evidence that would exonerate
the father was irrelevant and refused to take any action (p. 12). More states
need to follow the lead o/Texas and California in legislation. policy, and
judicial proceedings of child abuse cases. Rather than giving childprotective
services more power. that power needs to be statutorily checked by legislation
which limits the authority given to social workers.

At this point, ""Y ch ild protection 'Worker clln come into your h ome
lind take your child. No governor, senator, or representative clln do thllt
Furthermore, II child protection worker clln seize your child, the Pllrt ofyour
life which is most precious to you, but cannot seize your stereo!!
25. REFERRAL OF THE CHILD TO THERAPY PRIOR TO LEGAL
DETERMINATION : The standard of practice has been to refer the child, who
was all ege dly abused, to therapy immediately after he/she has been seized by
the State and taken into custody.

Little consideration is give n to the fact that the child may not be abused and
may not need th e rapy that subjecting the child to so-caJled therapy for sex u ally
.

abused children could be traumat izing to the child, or that therapy or


counseling may contaminate any evidence that the child may be able to provide
in a court of law.

The San Diego County GrandJury (Report No. 8. 1992) reported the case of
Alicia w. , who was seen in therapY twice a weekfor over a year prior to the _

case being heard in court, with a th erapist who believed that Alicia 's father had
abused AliCia. During th is period o/time, Alicia was isolatedfrom anyone who
believed her story. i. e . . that some strange man had abducted her through her
Window, not that her father had molested her. In addition. Alicia's therapist
and the social worker blocked defense efforts for Alicia to see the judge on the
have an independent psychological evaluation, and be placed in the
cas e . 10
interim with relatives (p. 1 2-1 3).

Cee; and Bruck (1 995) note the repeated interviews to which children can be
subjected with investigators who presume that abuse has occurred, while
Gardner (1 992) says that "therapy" is supposed to be an "uncovering " process,
which m ay take weeks, months, or even years. Gardner sarcastically says that
ineVitably, in the hands of such "therapists, " the child provides progressively
more elaborate and even bizarre disclosures, which (are construed as)
confirm (ing) that the abuse did indeed take place (p. 204). Elsewhere. Gardner
states that children should be removed/rom treatment with an overzealous
therapist (p. 498) and that no treatm en t at all may be necessary, depending of
the particu lars ofthe case (p. 499).

26. FAILURE TO PROVIDE LEGAL NOTICE TO PARENTS: In dealing with


the juvenile court system, parents may not be notified when hearings pertaining
to the child are being held, may be given only an hour or nvo notice or may
,

sometimes be infonned when a bearing is being held. At other times, they may
b e told tha t they lido not have to be there" by the social worker.
r

The failure to notify parents is a violation of the "right to notice, " another
procedural due process violation. The parent's "right to notice " has been
guarantee d in other courts of law, but in juvenile courts it is not upheld.

AI o th e r times, the only notice to parents is a message on an answering


machine, left with such short notice that the parent is not able to arrange to be
releasedfrom work, to get to the hearing or to seek appropriate legal
,

consultation.

27. HINDRANCE TO "ASSISTANCE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: " Parents are


often told by their own attorneys that they should "stipulate" to the charges�
whi ch means they do not contest them, or essentially admit to what was charged.
They are advised to "do whatever the State wants you to do. "

Attorneys who attempt to defend persons accused ofchild abuse are unable to
build a case. because access to evidence is stone-walled .So, in an attempt to
assist their clients. they often advice clients to concede to doing whatever the
Slate reqUires them to do, in order to have their children returned. (See #22).

Especially in cases where the attorney for the parents is a court-appointed


attorney, the fee for handling the case in minimal and the attorney has limited
interest in pursuing the case. In such cases, the attorney is even more likely
to advice clients to stipulate and "do whatever the State wants. " In some cases
where clients have had the resources to demand ajury trial, they might get a
sentence of 1 00 years. That sentence is given in a case where there has never
been a charge formally made against the parentfor child abuse.

28. PRESUMPTION OF GUILT: Any all egation of suspected child abuse is


assumed to be true by social workers. Assuming that all reports are true
constitutes a "l?resumption of guilt,.' which is carried tbrougbout virtually all
in vestigati ve and judicial proce edings
.

The person accused ofchild abuse, often referred to as the alleged perpetrator,
is presumed to be guilty of the crimes before the trial is heard (Hagen, 1997).
The whole arrangement o/the trial tells the jury that the defendant cannot be
innocent. Jurors are presented with biased trial procedures. The trial is biased
The defendan t is presumed to be guilty and the judge has already reached a
judgm e nt before the trial even opens (Hagen, 1997; p. 181-182)

The parent(s). who are presumed to be guilty of child ab use. are placed in a
position o/having to attempt to prove their innocence . which actually can never
be done. Parents m ust retain legal counsel, if th ey are fortunate enough to have
finan cial resources to be able to do so. Poorly educated and lower-middle class
persons are most vulnerab le to the system, because they do not u nderstand it,
are not sophisticated at fighting it and do not have the financial resources to
encounter it.

Social workers and those who investigate allegations of child abuse often refer
to themselves as "vaUtlalors, " belying their a priori assumption that all
allegations of abuse are true and the task of the investigator is to get th e child to
adm it what happened (Cec; and Bruck. 1 995; Gardner, 1992; Scott, 1994).

Many people who are accused ofchild abuse say that they want to go to court,
so that they can "pro-ve themselves innocent. " Constitutionally, they should be
presumed to be innocen t until proven olherwise. The presumption ofguilt, 'Often
without evidence , is a violation of the accused person 's Conslilutional Rights,
i. e., the Constitution states that persons should be presumed innocent until
proven guilty. Substantive due process violations are involved.

The San Diego County Grand Jury found that mere suspicion to molest was
suffiCient to file a petition and to sustain a true finding. They wrote: " The
burden o/proo/, contrary to every other area 0/ our ju.dicial system, is on the
aUegedperpetrator to pro-ve his innocence (San Diego County Grand Jury
Report, ''Families in Crisis, " No. 2, p. 26. Underline in original).
Scott (1994) likened child ab use investigation. all of which are assumed to be
true to "the Spanish Inquisition, Hilter's reignt and Stalin 's purges" (p. J 34.).

All citizens are, by the Constitution guaranteed ofequal access under the Jaw
and ourjudic ial system is b ased on the presumption of innocence. The
prosecution ofchild protection cases is considered by many to be an anomaly of
justice.

Parents are not forma lly charged through the juvenile courts. yet they are
"held to answer"jor the infamous crime of child abuse. Their civil rights
under the Fifth Am endm ent of the Constitution are violated and they are
coerced into tlgoing along " with whatever they are told to do, with the ultimate
bla ckmail being the ir children.
r

I
In some cases, statements which parents made in an attempt to get their
children returned to their care and custody were then taken, twisted. and used
against them to file criminal charges ofchild abuse.

29. SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE : JUDICIAL CONVICTION : In many court


hearings� the d efense on behalf of parents is not allowed to present evidence
which would defend the parent who has been accused of neglect or abuse. In
some cases, parents are told that even if they prevail in a court of law � they will
be subject to the punitive and intrusive measures set out by the child protective
I
agency, othenvise called Ittreatment standards. t

Parents are deprived ofdue process oflaw, in that they are not allowed to
present a defense. Judges in child abuse cases often bar any evidence other than
that which will prosecute the parent, even though that "evidence " may be hased
on improper investigations, tainted hearsay, hiased anti-parent philosophies.
and self-serving motives.

Scon (1994) reports several cases which were reviewed by the San Diego
County Grand Jury in which the judge refused to allow the deftnse to have the
child examined. even when the time frame would not have allowed the defendant
to be in contact with the child at the time that he allegedly sexually abused her.
When witnesses came forward to provide a possible motive forfalse charges,
that evidence was suppressed When the case came to trial, the attitude of the
court was clearly biased. The vast majority ofdefense objections were
overruled, while the vast majority ofprosecution objections were sustained.

A motion was filed asking the judge to disqualify herself. due to the fact that her
bias was evidentfrom the fact that she was strict and stern with the defense
attorney, but friendly and pleasant toward the prosecution attorney. The judge
cut off the defense anorney during discussions or questioning ofwitnesses,
refused to allow the defense attorney to recall a witness, and showed obvious
dislike for the defendant and defense counsel in the presence ofthe jury (pp.
156-158). At one point, the District Attorney was allowed to read verbatim from
a prior statement when questioning her witness without action or intervention by
the judge, while Defense Counsel was disallowed to proceed in a similar
manner regarding the same issue with his witness (Scott, 1 994. p. J58).

Unfortunately. such prosecutorial andjudicial misconduct occurs often, in


fact, in many cases. Judges are intimidated by the S'J.pposed pO¥..Ier of the State
as represented in child protective workers, worried about leaving a child in
-
a risky situation, and duped hy so called child protection examiners and
experts. In addition. they may pursue their own political and social agenda, or
simply have insufficient training and information aboul 1he risks offalse
accusations. Parents who seek a jury trial have also been denied due process of
law, in that any one who m ight share their particular religious orientation, i. e. ,
attend church, is dism issed /rom serving on the jury. Therefore, parents who
,
anend church are, in effect not tried by ajury of th e ir peers.

Judges who sentence parents to conforming with child protective service


,
standards are, in effect sentencing them to serve out the child protective agency
sentence, whether they have been found guilty in a court oflaw or not.
Such miscarriages ofjustice have happened often in the state of Oklahoma, but
parents who have been unjustly treated have limited recourse against the state
agency which engineers this anomaly of the legal system .

Judicial immunity protects juvenile courtjudges from being held accountable


for unjust term ination ojparental rights. Judges in thejuveniJe court system
"
are allowed to operate under "administrative law, which further shields them
from any accountability.

30. COERCION TO "STIPULATE" TO CHARGES OF ABUSE: Once families


are dragged into the courts, which in Oklahoma is the juvenile court, often they
are not allowed to present their own case, to attempt to prove their innocence.
Social workers are allowed to testify, with evidence often obtained by improper
investigative methods and mental health professionals present tainted hearsay,
which is contaminated by "a priori b ias. tI Social workers may pursue the agenda
" "
that the state must readily and routinely intervene to protect children from their
parents, who are incompetent and dangerous to children.

Once involved in the juvenile legal proceedings, parents are coerced into
.
"stipulating" to the charges They may be advised by legal counsel to "do
"
whatever the State wants you 10 do. Pressure to stipulate to the charges takes
, ,
place under coe rcion with the threat being made implicitly or explicitly that
'you will never ge t your kids back unless you stipulate. " Or the alternative is
posed to th e parents. you can go to trial, but then you 'll b e jound guilty and
'

you will never see your kids again. " or you ll get 40 to 1 00 years in prison.
' ' "

. .
With this coe rcion most paren ts succumb to the pressure stipulate to the
charges. and subm it to the treatment programs that are iden tified by child
protective service.
Parents do not understand the legal implications o! "stipulation, " and are no!
operating out offree choice. Legally, in terms ofdue process. decisions should
be made "free of coercion. " When the State has a family 's children. they have
possession of the most precious part of a person 's life and that person will do
virtually anything to get his/her child returned.

31. REQUIRE MENT TO ADMIT GUILT, IN COURT OR "TREATMENT : "


When the parent or parents are referred to treatment., they are required to admit
that they abused the child, as a condition of being considered to have
"successfully completed" that program. Little consideration is given to what the
parent asserts or what the parent knows to be true. Wholesale requirement of
admission of guilt is the order to the day.

No consideration is made about whether in/act the parent did or did not
actually abuse the child Based merely on the fact that the parent wasfound
guilty in a court 0/ law (that actually had not authorization to find any parent
guilty ofanything, since the parent is not charged injuvenile court), these
treatment programs proceeds to coerce and require admission 0/guiltfrom the
parent(s).

in many cases. the parents are required, in mental health treatment programs.
to admit that they abused their children. Most programs require that the
parent(s) admit guilt. i. e. , admit abusing the child. in order to successfully
complete the program. Failure o/the parent to admit gu ilt is used as the sole
criteria/or successful completion o/these "perpetrators' programs. "Failure to
meet the standards established by the childprotective service workers will be
considered grounds for termination o[parental rights.

Most counselors who work in these programs are operating based on ve ry


lim ited clinical information which indicates that admission ofguilt is necessary.
Most personnel in these mental health agencies hold the unproven notion that
admission of guilt is a pre-requisite for change and are totally unfamiliar with
legal rights of the paren t in such cases.

Such programs report their treatment results to the childprotective service,


which then acts as treatment evaluator, to make a de term ination whether o r not
the parent has completed treatment successfully- The treatment report is
forwarded to the court. which proceeds with termination o/parental rights
alleging that the pa rent (s) did not make "acceptable progress toward
II
completion of the treatment standards. Even ijparents have completed all

evaluations, sessions, counseling, and training. the deciding crite ria on which
term ination ofparental rights is based is wh e ther or not the parents admit that
.
th ey abuse d the ch ild

However, there is no proven therape utic efficacy to such required admission 0..(
guilt is ne cessary and such admission ofguilt. wh ethe r in a court of law o r
during participation in a mental health program mandated by court order may
constitute a Fifth Amendment violation. The lack of th erapeutic efficacy of
required admission ofguilt has been challenged by several authors. The
assumption that a parent must admit guilt in order to successfully complete
treatm ent has not been supported with scientific research (Levine and Doherty,
1 991 ; Undenvager and Wakefield 1991). Although persons who work in such
' II
child abuse 'perpetrators ' treatment programs operate with the assumption
that admission ofguilt is a Widely-accepted standard of the professional
community, little existing literature is available on this subject.

Questions about c ivil rights violations of required admission ofguilt in such


programs is being raised The legal argument can be made that required
admission 0/guilt, i. e. , having abused the child, is a Ftfth Amendment Violation.
Patton (1990) re viewed legal precedents andfound that In lire J. w. . " the
appeals court determined that the trial court could not reqUire appellants to
incriminate themselves in therapy and could not use the parents' noncompliance
in therapy as a ground/or keeping the children infoster care orfor terminating
pa rental rights . Patton also poi nted out that Californ ia has determined that it is
fundamentally unfair to put parents to the Hobson's choice o/remaining silent in
court-ordered therapy, resulting in the (permanent) loss of their child, or
confessing to abuse, resulting in the loss ofliberty {pp. 512-513}.

The coercion exerted on parents to adm it that they abused their children is the
most extreme that could be placed on an individual. The operation a/the "child
protective system " is sim ila r 10 the coercion which is taking pla ce in China, with
decisions about the guilt or inno ce nce of the accused person being made prior
,
to any judicial proce eding defe nse evidence being b lockedfrom courtt and
.
unjust proceedings at being carried on at aJ/judicial levels Such injustice is
happening in the Un ite d Slates just as in China (No One Is Safe, 1 996).

Most parents are literally in shock be cause their children have been se ized.
they are in tim idated because the State has their children, they are trau ma tize d
.
by the process 10 which they have b een subje cte d they are afraid of the
)J

o utcome, they feel powerless tofight the system, and they are in utter disbelief
that such justice can take place in the United States, which is supposed to have
a system ofjustice.

32. REQUIRED COMPLETION OF "TREATME NT STANDARDS: " P arent s are


given a variety of II standards, " with which they must comp ly in order to get their
children returned. These "standards" are requirements which are defined by the
child protective service and the parents are then ordered by the court to follow
them. The parents are referred to a variety of agencies, many of which contract
with the Department of Human Services or who receive the bulk of their referrals
from the Department of Human Services.

Completion of these treatment standards is lengthy and time-consuming.


Completion of the "standards" in the treatment plan may take from 6 months 10
as long as 2-3 years. The parent is not consideredfor return of the child until
the standards are complete.

Completion o/treatment standards ;sfinancially costly. The State does not take
into account the finanCial cost of completion ofstandards. i.e... cost of
psychological evaluations, cost ofalcohol and/or d rug treatment, cost of
counseling, parenting classes. etc. In addition, lost time from workfor court
proceedings and interviews, payment of child support tot he state andpayment
for supervised visitation further burden financial resources ofthe family.

For afamily who has limitedjinanc;al resources, the expense ojcompleting


these treatment standards may worsen the family situation, particularly in those
situations in which poverty or poor housing conditions were m isconstrued as
evidence ofabuse. As indicated above, many cases which are alleged to be child
abuse or neglect are, in/act, poverty. The State intervention compounds
finanCial distress, forcing manyformerly solventjamilies in bankruptcy.

The establishment of treatment standards allows social workers an on-going


intrusion into each family. The role ofsocial worke1*s shiftsfrom being "helpers "
to being police agents. With this on-going intrusion. it is even more difficult
for the family to return to normal. Many people/eel, for years to come, that
they are nol safe in their own homes.
33. I RREPARABLE DAMAGE TO THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP : �

Parents remain separated from their children during this entire period of time,
which may range up to several ye ars . The p arent may be given one hour of
visitation per month with his/her child, under the supervision eye of the D HS
social worker. Often the visitation takes place in Wldesirable settings , such as
cramped, barren office at the Department of Human Services . Many times,
visitation between parents and children is canceled, with little notice or
justification from social workers.

Maintaining any parent-child bond is virtually impossible, as the time allowed


for the parent and child to be together is so severely limited. The conditions
under which the parent and child are forced to visit make interaction extremely
difficulty. Many times, parents are told that the visitation in canceled because
the SOCial worker ;s too busy, has other commitments, has to be in court, has
other emergencies, etc.

There is no accountingfor the damage which is done to the parent-child


relationship in this period of time. Parental alienation syndrome may quickly
set in. in a matter ofa few weeks, depending on the age of the child. The
breaking o/the emotional bonding or attachment between the parent and child,
may result in an reactive attachment problem, which has been grossly
overlooked. This attachment may never be regained: permanent damage to the
child is done.

The disturbance to the family by the process is immeasurable. Countless hours


oJlegal hearings, therapy, and interviews take place. For fami!iesjortunate
enough to have some finanCial resources, those finanCial resources are drained
by legal fees. Often the parent(s) have lost jobs because ofexcess absentee ism
due to a variety ofgovernment intrusions and legal hearings. Manyfamilies
have been forced into bankruptcy.

In some cases, the State requires that the mother divorce the father, assuming
that he is a ''perpetrator. " This results in yet another Single-parent family, who
may then become dependent on State subsidy. The children lose the opportunity
to be raised in a two ..paren tfam ily. Such "perpetrators' programs " often have a
distinct "anti-male. "anti-father. " and "anti-family " philosophy (Scott. 1 994; p.
"

1 71) . Such programs are often operated by 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 harmful to
children. Such programs often presume that parents are incompetent and that
only wi th the supervision ofso-called "experts " of the State. can parents even
begin to folfill 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
suffered irreparable damage to their respect for their parents, often believing
that their parents have abandoned them. being led to believe that their parents
have abused them, and being told directly or by implication that they are not
safe with their parents.

In many cases, the child has been truly abused in foster care, sometimes even
raped or killed. Children are often shiftedfrom one foster home to another,
with no sense ofpe rmanence or security. Children are separatedfrom their
siblings, worsening the psychological trauma to the child.- Children who are
shuffled/rom one/oster home to another andfrom one institutional facility to
another can develop psychological problems, such as a severe conduct
disorder, self-destructive tendencies, or an inability to "bond" with anyfam ily.
The child is likely to be much more psychologically disturbed than he/she was
before allegations ofabuse arose. A ttachment disorders among foster children
have recent begun to be addressed in the professional literature.

Even exte ndedfamily members are traumatized, since often their visitation
rights with the child is denied to grandparentst aunts, uncles. siblings.

Ifand when the family is re-unified, the child may have extremely behavior
problems. The parent(s) are like ly to find themselves with a child who has been
so damaged by the "System " that the child is diffiCUlt to manage and control.
The parents are likely to live infear offurther State intrusion.

I,reparable damage is done to the family, which will never be the same.
34. CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND UNETHICAL MULTIPLE ROLES:
The child protective service places social w orkers in numerous role s which ,

constitute "unethical multiple relationships. N o one has b oth ered


II to address the
fact that social workers assume the multiple roles of investigator, medical
examiner, litigant, prosecution witness, treattnent plan developer, treatment
efficacy evaluator, case manager, housing inspector, visitation supervisor, legal
consultant to the court, and police officer.
DHS social workers usually have a 4 year college degree and are not qualified
to conduct psychological and medical evaluations. Nor are they qualffied to
conduct law enforcement investigations, to understand the legal process
sufficiently. or to be competent in the multiple roles in which they are placed.

Social workers are not adequately trained and not professionally competent
to perform all of these multiple roles. ProfeSSional training cannot possibly
ensure competence in all of these roles. In addition, time constraints do not
allow them to function effectively in multiple roles. When social workers accept
employment with child protective service, they likely thought they would be
"helpers, " i. e. , who assisted/am/lies. Placing social workers in investigative,
litigant and other roles is stressful to them, as well. It is little wonder that
social workers who work/or child protective services "burn out" so quickly
and employee turn-over rate is high.

Several states, such as A rkansas. have removed the investigative functionjrom


social workers' roles. while some others have advocated/or contracted out to
qualified professionals.

Conflict o/interest is apparent in mental health programs which hold contracts


with the child protective service or which receive many oj their referrals from
the child protective service. The operation o/these programs may be
questioned regarding a "conflict of interest. " This possible conflict of interest
compromises objectivity and clouds the mental health practitioners' ability to
assist the client. Ethically, it may be the State who is the "client " and not the
family. This presents an unethical professional arrangement. The mandated
reqUirement of counseling destroys the traditional therapeutic relationship
between the client and the provider of counseling services.
r

!
35. OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENT : NIGHTMARES OF CORRUPTION : Each
child which is taken into State custody is apparent justification for more federal
and state funding. Further comp laints about all of the children who need to be
protected further fans the flames of "hysteria" about child abuse.

In 1 992, 659, 000 children "received out-of-home care services, " i. e. , were in
foster care at some point (C'WLA, 1995: Figure 2. 1, p. 49), although when
Federal /egislators askfor accountability about the number of children
in Slate custody, they are told that only about 24, 000 children are in state
custody. Statistics are manipulated by child protection advocates to obtain
desired effects. i. e.. , higher numbers to provoke hysteria and alarm; lower
numbers for dejense and se/f-protection, etc. At any given day, over 445, 000
(p. 49) children were infoster care or out-ol-home placement.

Thefoster care system operates on "uncapitated" or unlimitedfunds, which


come from the Federal Government. under Title IV-E. A monetary incentive
exists. i. e. , the more children that a State can take into custody, the more money
that the State will get/rom the Federal Government. Billions oldollars are
spent annually on out-ol-home placement. There has been little effort to try to
maintain limits on government spendingforfoster care. Infact, there is a
monetary incentive to remove children, since the funds which payforjoster care
have been "uncapitated"funds.

The Los Angeles County Grand Jury recentlyfound. that, in that county alone.
46, 000 children were under active court supervision. Most cases were two years
in duration, but many were three andfour years in duration. There were 500
full-time Qttorneys serving the courthouse. They were paid $14 million in lega/
fees in 1 995 to represent these minors. More than 30 to 40 cases were heardper
day held in each of 1 7 courtrooms (RusseJJ, Cox. Kruse, Nason, Pepp, Perkins,
and Simmons, 1 997, p. 3-3).

The Los Angeles County Grand Jury also found group home administrators'
salaries ranging up to $1 00. 000. One group home was receiving $4, 423 per
child per month. This equals $318, 456 per yearfor 6 children: for 5 group
home sitest this added up to $1,592,280 pe, yell'. Meanwhile, some children
receive no clothing allowance, no computers, no reference books and no
educational 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 m illion to place 12, 3 1 2 children outside their homes.
Of that total, 10,280 o/these children or 84% were under the supervision
of th e Division ofFam ily Services, having been placed in state custody due to
an allegation ofabuse or neglect. Only 905 o/those children, or 7. 4% were
under the supervision of the Department of Youth Services, due 10 delinqu ency
or other unmanageability. The remaining 1, 1 31 or 9. 2% were under the
supervision of ihe department ofMental Health, with a related mental health
problem (Where 's My Hame, 1 989. pp. viii, 20).

The total annual cost for one year of out-aI-home placement for one child in
Missouri ranged/rom $ 1 1 . 424 to $93. 075 (p. vii). The length of time that
children spent outside of theiT homes was over a yearfOT the majority of
children, with two out of everyfive children spending more than two years
outside their homes.

Missourifound that the highest costfor out-ol-home services was $255 per day
for a childplaced in inpatient hospital care, while Family Foster Care under the
Department ofFamily Services had the lowest cost of$6.83 per day (Where 's
My Home, p. 20). Family Preservation Services, i/implemented. were
estim ated to be reduce expenditures by at least $10. 1 million (p. 41).

Another study ofout-ol-home placement for children in Missouri (Interrupted


Lives, 1990) estimated that one third of the children in out-of-home placement
would be appropriate for Family Preservation Services, i.e., would not require
out-ol-home placement (p. v) . The recommendations of that report included,
among several other goals, to:

1) expand the development of Family Preservation Services for every


appropriate family across Missouri to avert unnecessary
pmcement of children outside their homes
2) reduce the 23% rate of children who re-enter the out-of-home
placement

Other states, including Iowa. have stressed out-of-home placement pre vention
andfamily re -unification.

The joster care systems ofseveral states have come under investigation for
fraud. In Texas. the investigation has found investigative improprie ty,
falsification o/records, andfinancia l malfeasance. Dawson (1996b) reported
on the childprotective system as having lack of institutional honesty, with a )S

corporate culture that tolerates and encourages lies. deceit. falsification of


records, fraud, and corruption.

In other documentation. Dawson reported that the child protective agency's


foste r care program did not comply with Federal regulations, including
o vercharging ofapproximately $3 million of unallowable Joster care costs,
making paymen ts to undocumented clients. and using Federal funds to pay for
se ttlements oflawsuits in which the agency violated Federal and State laws and
regulations (Dawson. 1996b, p. 3). Questionable expenditures which we re
found included purchasing land and blueprintsfor a $5 million church complex .

purchasing a provide r s program director's home for $4 J 7. 000, purchasing and


'

improving a home use dfor the executive director's office for nearly $200.000.
The Inspector Generalfound that the childprotective agency was retaining
approximately 38% of the funds intended to provide food. clothing, and shelter
for children under their care and spending these funds on unallowable
expenses (p. 40).

Among many other abuses that the child protective agency was carrying on,
swom testim ony before the Texas Sunset Advisory Comminee by the child
protective se rvice executive director revealed that nearly 400 "abused and
neglected" children were being housed in tents (in) at least nine different
locations in Texas (p. 5). Su.bsequent statements exposed that the State o/Texas
was paying $15, 000 to $2.5. 000 per child per yearfor these so-called
"residential therapeutic facilities. " Children in these camps resided without air
conditioning in the summer. used space heaters in the winter months and dug
their own toilets in the woods. One contractor was receiving $.5200 per child
per monthfor housing children in such conditions! (Dtm'son, p. 5).

In a legislative review, State legislation in Texas has recently been passed


which removes immunityfrom social workers who falsify the results of
investigation, suppress evidence which would prove that the child has not been
abused. or otherwise perjure themselves to defend their own positions and the
remove the investigative Jun ctio n ofsocial worke rs job and transfer that
'

junction back to law enforcement (Dawson 1997).


,

In California a majo r grandjury investigation of the /oster care system has


,

been conduc ted The Los Angeles County Grand Jury, on April 15, 199 7. issued
.

the follOWing statement:


"On April 8, 199 7, th e Los Angeles County Grand Jury released a critical
report o/Group Home care in Los A nge les County. This report holds
the Department o/ Children and Fam ily Services (DCFS). along with the
State Communi ty Care Licensing AgenCYt accoun ta ble for poor
oversight " (Board a/Supe rvisors, County ofLos Angeles, 1 99 7,· p . 1).

The Grand Jury found unallowable expenditures, questionable costs, and over­
payments. They also found that 46. 000 children were under active court
supervision and most of the cases were two years in duration. Many of the cases
were three or four years in duration. Among the outrages found, the Grand Jury
said it found homes that earn up to $60,000 II year per child, a boy whose only
new clothing in two years was a pair ofsoch. Widespreadfailure to seek court
authorization to administer mind altering drugs, and physical abuse of children.
The budget for the foster care program was $238 million (Rainey, Los Angeles
Times, 1 997).

Child protective agencies oversee their own efforts, with no outside monitoring
of the /oster care system, allOWing it to rubber-stamp its own efforts and avoid
accountability. In some cases, the "oversight " that it gives itselfis for the social
worker merely to sign a form which says that he/she made a "reasonable effort "
to find relative placement for the child or to re-unite the fam ily- No monitoring
agency with outside persons oversee most State 's child protective agencies.
With such Iltrocities, child protective IIgencies ' powers should be severely
curtailed, ifnot virtually eliminated .

36. FOSTER CARE DRIFT AVERAGING 22 MONTHS: Children may remain in


foster care for years, in what is called "foster care drift. tt The warehousing of
children in foster homes places children at greater risk., burdens the foster care
It
system, results in exaggerated claims of the magnitude of the t. child abuse
problem, and leads to huge government expenditures.

Little or no concern is given by child protective agencies to the negative impact


ofb eing in foster care, i. e. t children are at m uch greater risk in foster care than
in their biological homes. The child may act out the anger for being in Joster
care, which then results in transfer to anotherfoster home. hospitalization in a
youth psychiatric facility. or institutionalization in a State-operatedfacility for
incorrigible youths. Wexler (1 995) reports on the ineffectiveness offoster care,
including the facts that many persons who are homeless were p rev i ously in
Joster care and that many children are abused in fos te r care .
Wexler (1995) n o tes that law suits against states, /or failu re to provide adequa te
foster care, are pending in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Washington, D. C. He
reported that there were at least three class-action lawsuits in progress in New
York City alone In Illinois. there are at least e ight class-action lawsuits
.

pending. Illinois' Department o/Children and Family Services is presently


being sued - or has already been held in contempt 0/ court for:

l-failure to provide preventive services to keep children out offoster care


2-failure to assign a caseworker until thirty days or more after the child
is placed in Joster care
3-abysmal conditions in emergency shelters forJoster children
4-abysmal conditions in /oste r care after children are placed
5-routine strip-searching in cases 0/alleged abuse
6- failure to provide adequate visitation (for parents)
7-failure to provide services to teenage mothers infoster care
B-failure to provide Spanish-speaking workers to families that speak only
Spanish
(pp. 1 92-193." reordered).

Another article (Kopels and Rycraft, 1993) also outlines the class action lawsuit
which wasjiled against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
(IDCFS) forfailing to assign a caseworker to Q childfollowing the issuance
ofa temporary custody or protective order (p. 400). Further, the lawsuit
alleged that the IDCFS[ailed to:

1) make reasonable efforts to prevent the removal ofchildren/rom their


homes
2) make reasonable efforts to reunite with theirfamilies children who
have been removed/rom their homes
3) notify appropriate agencies when a child is mistreated while placed in
(a/oster) home
4) develop case plans to ensure proper services to children while in
(out-ol-home) placement (p. 400).

The solution is not to give chUd protective services more power: the solution is
to reduce the unbridled ptwJer which they c,,"entiy have. The sO/lition is not
to move children out ofjoster care, but to keep them from entering it!!
3 7 : NOTHING REASONABLE ABOUT "REASONABLE EFFORTS: " Among �
other requirements, federal law requires that, in order to receive federal funding,
s tates must have, in place, a plan to ensure that ureasonable efforts tI are expended
to prevent children from being removed from their families and that children be
re-united with their families, in those cases where out-of-home placement has
been necessary.

In/act, such "reasonable efforts " are utterly meaningless. The "reasonable
efforts" requirement, in practice, is little more than asking the social worker
to "initial" a blank on another bureaucratic/orm, attesting that he/she make
an effort to comply with the regulation. In practice, social workers merely
certify that their own efforts are "reasonable, " without any accountability to
an outside agency. As with virtually all other aspects of child protective
services, training is negligible, power is unchecked, lind accountability is
absent

The Supreme Court interpreted that the federal legislation makes funding
contingent at least in part on having a plan in place for "reasonable efforts. "
There is nothing in the law that says that the plan has to be implemented.
Furthermore, the Court shoc/cingly determined that/ederal legislation "does
not create a federally enforceable right to reasonable efforts, " concluding that
Congress did not intend to create a private remedy for enforcement of the_
reasonable efforts provision (Kopels and Rycroft. 199J, p. 402-403).

Federal legislation has been introduced which would reduce the "reasonable
efforts " reqUirement, allegedly to facilitate adoption. The answer to the foster
care problem is not to eliminate the "reasonable efforts " reqUirement, but the
solution should be to:

1) ReqUire by law that the state plan which is required to ensure


"reasonable efforts" must be implemented.
2) Legislatively create afederally enforceable right to "reasonable
efforts " to prevent out-of-home placement and to re-unite the
family in an expedient manner. This enforceable right should be
codified to protect parents and for parents acting on behalf of
their children.
3) Create laws which will allow parents legal remedy against agencies
and workers who fail to implement "reasonable effort. "
4) Require that each state have an independent monitoring body. which 'j>
is designated by the governor, with legislative overSight. to
m onito r the " reasonable effo rts " of each state child protective
age ncy.
5) Implemen t the same "qualified immunity " standardfor social workers
as provided to police officers should replace the present "absolute
immunity. "
6) Social workers who Jail to enact " reaso nable efforts " to preserve the
family, i. e. , prevent out-ol-home placement, or 10 re-unile the
family should be subject to administrative review and possible
dism issal .

7) State child protective services which fail to ensure " reasonabJe efforts "
should be subject to loss ofFederal funding.

Funding for foster care programs and management ofsuch programs have
come under greater scrutiny across the nation. This trend will likely continue.

The reason thatjoster cllre roles are bulging is thllt "child protective systems"
are poorly managed, inefficient, unaccountable lind have too much power.

In Oklahoma, the Govemor's office gets several hundred phone calls Q day
about abuse ofpower by the child protection system. but can do little because
the governor does not have direct oversight of the Department ofHuman
Services. DHS was set up to have complete autonomy, with the only oversight
being offered by 9 commissioners. Legislators also have no direct oversight of
the child protective service.

The answer to the /oster care problem is not more/oster homes, more money
for [oster care, or more expedient adoption_ The answer is to revamp the
entire foulty child protective system, protecting/amiiies not destroying them.

38. UNLAWFUL TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS: In some cases� the


court determines that the parent(s) have not shown enough interest in the child,
have not successfully completed their "standards," or otherwise have not met the
expectations of DHS . In these cases� legal termination of parental rights will be
sought.
Parental rights can be legally terminated quite whimsically th rough the
juvenile courts. The failure of the parent to adm it that he/she abused the child
can be taken as failure to successfully complete a program and can be used as
grounds for termination o/parental rights.

Social workers andjudges take termination ofparental rights in a rather


cavalier manner. The standard which is used in alljuvenile court proceedings.
including the termination ofparental rights is ''preponderance of eVidence. "

One famous court case, SantosJcy v. Kramer (455 U.S. 745: 1982), found that
New York was terminating parenting rights to their children which only "afair
preponderance of evidence " standard ofproof. This means that the state only
had to show, only by a margin of51% to 49% that abuse had occurred. This
''fair preponderance standard is the lowest standard 0/proofavailable in court
II

systems.

The Courtfourui that the ''fair preponderance " standard ofproo/violates the
Fourth Amendment 0/ the United States Constitution.

The United States Supreme Court has warned against the possible errors in
the use o/this lowered standard of evidence 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 termination ofparental
rights more difficult, rather than easier.

In reviewing possible termination o/parental rights, the United States Supreme


Court found that:

"The Jundamental liberty interest q{ natural parents in the care, custodyt


and management o/their child is protected by the Fourth Amendment,
and does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents
or have lost temporary custody of their child to the State. A parental

rights termination proceeding interferes with thatfundamental liberty


interest. When the State moves to destroy weakened/amilial bonds, it
must provide the parents withjundamental/y fair procedures (pp. 752-
754 Image).
In short, the term ination ofparental rights is not a matter to be taken lightly �

No doubt, the right to the care, custody, and managemen t of one 's own child is
more precious to most parents than life itself.

The direction that legislation should take is to make it more difficult/or


government to take children away from their parents, either temporarily or
permanently. The issue at hand is, without II doubt, an issue involving
constitutional rights ofparents lind children.

3 9. UNTRAINED VOLUNTEERS WITH SUBSTANTIAL POWER: A C ourt


Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) worker is appointed for the child. The
CASA workers are unpaid volunteers, who have about 6 weeks of training.

CASA workers are allowed to make treatment recommendations and advise


about the feasibility of re-uniting the child with his/her parents. The untrained
volunteers are given substantial power in deciding the fate of the child and the
family. The unpaid, untrained volunteers effectively hove more power than the
Governor of the State, since the Governor cannot even get access to records
and may need to issue an executive order to get access to child abuse case
records.

40. THE "CLOAK OF SECRECY: " The Department of Human Services has
operates behind a .,cloak of secrecy" that it confuses with " confidentiality. It DHS
fails to provide infonnation to parents, to legislators, or to the executive branch
of government, allowing it to operate with absolutely no accountability.

Even the Governor of the State of Oklahoma has been hinderedfrom obtaining
access to information about child abuse cases andfrom inspection of records.
The "cloak of secrecy" allows lack of accountability and gross abuse a/power
by child protective agencies. Legislators who attempt to assist their constituents
are also "stonewalled" by the childprotective service. which asserts
confidentiality. "

Legal proceedings ofalleged child abuse cases are held in closedjuvenile


courts. All records are sealed to the public, all proceedings are closedt
personnel working in these courts have total secrecy. which is justified as
" confidentiality. " Parents. legislators, State officials, and the public are
effectively barred/or any awareness o/what is taking place.
\l
Judges operate by adm inistrativ e law " which allows them greater latitude in
"

the conducting o/proceedings, i. e. , dec iding which eVidence will be or not be


admitted, which witnesses will be or b e not allowed which evidence will
.

be considered credible and admissible versus that which will no t be admissible.


There are no "checks and balanc es within this judicial branch of government.
"

The "cloak ofsecrecy" which surrounds all of these proceedings allows the
entire process to be unaccountab le corrupt, self-serving and in Violation of
,

due process of law.

4 1 . FAILURE TO PROTECT CHILDREN: INCREASED RISK OF HARM IN


STATE CUSTODY : Children may be injured, abused or become ill in custody
of the State, i.e., in foster care, but these cases go uninvestigated and children
are allowed to remain in a situation where they are tru1y at risk. Child protection
social workers have told parents that they cannot move the child to another
foster� because they "might get sued" for moving the child to another situation.

This makes absolutely no sense! How can social workers knowingly leave a
child in a foster home where known risk exists, with justification "DHS m ight
get sued? " Such decision-making belies real motivation of child protective
services - self-preservation.

Child protective services reveals an overallfailure to fulfill its basic mission,


i.e. , 10 protect children. The public ;s misled by statistics about the horrors 0/
child abuse and the need/or government intervention to protect children. The
State does not, in/act. accomplish the goal o/protecting children. Families are
destroyed in the process andparent-child relationships are irreparably
damaged infact. the government has not succeeded in the "mission statement "
o/protecting children and has put children infar more danger through the
"child protective system " than children face in their own homes.

One m other talked about the fact that the allegation was made that her child
was sexually molested. The child protective service took the child and wanted
to perform a genital examination. When the child. who was about 1 0 years old,
refused the examination. the child was sedated (partially), again without
parental authorization. The young lady was notfully sedated and became
conscious during the procedure. The mother commented that, after some time,
she realized that her daughter experienced that (child protective service)
examination as rape "
" .
r

The incident which happened in Stroudsbergt Pennsylvania in 1 996. in which


school girls were subjected to vaginal examination against their will and
without parental consent is another example of the authority of the State being
taken beyond reason. The fact that several of the girls objected, attempted to
refuse the examination, were not allowed to notify their parents. and were
forcibly subjected to gynecological examinations suggests, to this author. that
the exam ination was also experienced b� those girls as rape.

The child experiences trauma from the "system " in which he/she is placed. The
child, in fact, experiences "iatrogenic trauma. which means that the treatment
"

which was designed to resolve the problem induces other problems Children.

may become highly confused, ambivalent. dissociated, or depressed as a result


ofthe treatment that they are receiving at the hands 0/ the child protective
agency.

Parents are not perfect in raising children. but the State is far worse.

42. ARTIFICIAL DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN PARENTS' AND CHILDREN'S


RIGHTS: Children's rights are seen in legaJ opposition to parents' rights, with
no consideration of the fact that children have a right to be a pan of the family,
that parents have a Constitutional right to parent their children. So-called "child
advocates" view childrents' rights in legaJ opposition to parental rights.

The "child advocates " actuaJJy are pursuing a political agenda in which the
,

theme o/protecting children is used In/act, children are ''pawns'' ofthis


political movement, and the public is deceived by the rhetoric that this is ''for
the children. "

Children cannot be severed/rom the fam ily context with their siblings and
parents, without the presumption that the State will then take custody ofall
children.

The United States Suprem e Court has stated that children are not propertY but
that there are intangible fibers that connect parents and child. which exist
"

between parent and child, which are woven th rough the fabriC of our society.
providing it with strength beauty, andflexibility. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
, "

wrote:
"No ties are more precious than those binding parent and child. and. . .
- few decrees are so grave in their consequence as a court order
II
permanently severing the parent-child bond.
(States Must Allow Parents, 1996) .

The Supreme Court has noted that there are, in/act, "intangible fibers " between
parent and child "are sufficiently vital to merit constitutional protection in
appropriate cases. "

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has recognized that tIthe right of a parent to the
companionship, care, custody, and management of the child is a fundamental
right protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution. "

The vast majority ofparents give their entire lives for the sake of their
children, workfor their children and would literally die for their children. The
State will not give that kind ofsacrifice to any child.

In the juvenile courts which handle suspected child abuse and neglect cases.
the fundamental rights ofparents are considered non-existent.
Federal legislation has been proposed which would expedite termination of
parental rights, supposedly to facilitate adoption. Legislation should consider
parental rights to be presumptive, except when there ;s clear eVidence of
imminent risk ofserious harm to the child

A ny IIlW which would expedite termination ofparental rights, without due


process of 11lW, would likely 1I0t withstand Constitutional scrutiny.

Only when the child is tit imminent risk, with "clear and convincing evidence "
of that risk, should the government intervene. Children 's rights cannot be
artifiCially separated/rom parents' rights.

43 . CHILDREN PITTED AGAINST PARENTS: Historically, even before law was


codified and before the United States existed, parental rights were upheld by
It II
common law . The support by court decisions of parental rights prevailed until
about 20 years ago. Parents' authority to raise their own children was supported
by government. Schools functioned in cooperation with parents, not as agents of
the State. In approximately the last 20 years, rough1y since the initial passage of
the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, parental rights have been usurped
by the State and courts have failed to uphold parental rights. (See Whitehead,
1 985) for a complete review of the legal and historical literature). A virtual
r
"Pandora '5 Box" of legal, social, ethical, and judicial problems has been opened
as the result. Children are told that, in essence, they do not need to respect I
parental authority, even if that parental authority is reasonable. The State is
moving toward "take-over" of parenting roles.

Older children, but also some quite young, are learning to use the system to
get what they want. Children learn very qUickly that they can intimidate their
parents by threatening to turn them into DHS. They also know that they can
control their parents with threats ofsexual abuse allegations.

Children have been empowered by this ability to threaten their parents. In some
cases, an adolescent has made a report to DHS. been removed, set up in an
apartment alone. with government subsidy, without investigating the nature of
the report.

Children are empoweredt although they are legally incompetent and


psychologically immature.

Parents have been dis-empowered by the process, i. e., parental authority has
been undermined

In the process. the family unit is targetedfor destruction, with the only
alternative available being that children will be placed in State custody. The
destruction of the basic social unit, i. e thefami/y would be the end result.
.•

A complete discussion of this subject will need to await more intensive study.
For the present discus.sion, the ability ofchildren to manipulate the "system "
without more careful questioning by those in authority is noteworthy.

Our country should re-affirm the parent-child relationship as the "more


precious" than any bond linking the child with the state. Legislators and all
citizens should recognize the family as the basic social unit and recognize that.
without healthy families. our society will move rapidly to self-destructionQ
44. SOCIAL ENGINEERING DISGUISED AS CHILD ADVOCACY : The
underlying assumption of many "child advocate s " is that p arents are not
c ap abl e of raising their own children and that men in particular are harmful to
children, and that only with oversight from the government experts, can parents
fulfill the parental role. Children are seen as being at imminent risk from their
own parents and must be protected by State interventions.

Bringing the discussion full Circle. the child protective system operates with
a bureaucratic a"ogance, with unbridled power. massive funding, and v irtual
lack of accountability. Statistics are used to create "hysteria " or a sense of
moral panic, when, in /act the problem is not nearly of the magnitude that it
,

is alleged to be. The State uses these children to ach ie ve motives to acquire
power and money_ As Besharov estimated. approximate ly 900, 000fam ilies are
being destroyed annually by unwarranted State intrusion.

Each senator and representative has had numerous callsfrom constituents who
were heart-sick. when their children were seized by the state andprobably most
ofthose legislators said "there 's nothing that we can do about it. "

The "childpro tective system " ;s som ething that we must "do something about. "

. .
The extent of injustice, unprojessionalism deception personal damage and ,

.
Jack ofaccountability. and is unconscionable and unbearable 1 have no motive
.
offame fortune, or personal benefit: my only motive is to see this so-called
child protective system changed to genuinely protect children and to save
American families from State destruction.

The presumption of child protection advocates is that the State is much better at
prote cting children than their parents, when research shows that children are
ten times more likely to be injured while in state custody than in the custody of
their parents. The child protective system is jailing in its primary m ission.
Billions ofdollars are being spent. The operation of child protective sys tems ,

from reporting ofalleged abuse. through investigation, prosecution, and case


management is so highly flawed that it is 'Inol good clinical practice. not good
.
sc ience and probably not good law" (Adams, 1996)
Sowell (1995) has been among the most straight-forward and bold in his
criticism of the "child protection system " saying:

"Make no mistllke about it, those who organized this political pageant were
doing so on their own behalf- 10' money and power- and chUdren were just
pawns.

"Anyone who doesn 't believe in pouring more billions oltax dollllrs down the
bottomless pit offailed social programs will be said to be 'against children '.

"However, what the leaders want is notjust money, but power- the power to
mice oller the role o!parents, without responsibility for the consequences.
That has been the agenda ojgroups Oke the so-called 'ChUdren 's Defense
Fund, ' since long before this rally was held or planned.

" Collectivism in the raising o!children is a theme repeated ;" such


expressions lIS 'America 's children ' •.••

Power is what so-called 'children 's advocates ' are all about "

In conclusion, th e time/or thoughtful consideration o/the


process 0/ reporting, investigating, managing, and trying
suspected child abuse cases has undoubtedly come!!!

f '
i .
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Judith K. A damsJ Ph . D" LMFTI DB CFE, ICADe, C TS
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
7 1 70 South Braden, Suite 1 60
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74 136
Telephone (fi1S) 4fi4-5010 FAX (fi 1S) 494-5825

MAKING CHANGES IN THE


CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM

The following recommendations pertaining the Child Protective System have been
grouped together to parall el the process by which suspected child abuse cases are
reported ·'investigated," prosecuted and treated. These recommendations include a
, ,

synthesis of the recommendations made by the following authors, as well as by the


a uthor of the present article.

RlCHARD WEXLER: WOUNDED INNOCENTS


RICHARD GARDNER: FAMIL Y EVALUATION IN CHILD CUS TODY,
MEDIATION , ARBITRATION, AND LITIGATION
RIC HARD GARDNER: TESTIMONY PREPARED FOR UNITED
STATES SENATE
CAROL LAMB HOPKINS : SAN DIEGO COUNTY GRAND JURY
INVESTIGATIONS
CAROL LAMB HOPKIN S : TESTIMONY PREPARED FOR UNITED
STATES SENATE: Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and
Families
TERRY DAWSON: NASVO ISSUES : and Texas Legislation Proposals
BRENDA SCOTT: OUT OF CONTROL : WHO'S WArCHING OUR
CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCIES.