by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
A stunning number of American children are subjected to at least one Child Protective Services investigation by the time they reach 18 years old. According to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, almost 4 out of every 10 American children will experience some kind of social worker investigation into allegations of child abuse or maltreatment at some point in their childhood. (Source.)
The study utilized Census data and information from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child Files (2003–2014). The study estimated that:
37.4% of all children experience a child protective services investigation by age 18 years. Consistent with previous literature, we found a higher rate for African American children (53.0%) and the lowest rate for Asians/Pacific Islanders (10.2%).
In our work with hundreds of families as we cover their stories for Health Impact News, we have found that many parents are shocked at the intrusion of Child Protective Services into their lives. Before their own experiences, almost all of them believed that CPS is only involved with “really bad parents who abuse their children.”
When their only “crime” is to ask for a second medical opinion, they have a difficult time coming to grips that they are being lumped in with monsters who do terrible things to their children. They don’t understand how social workers can come into their lives and take their children when they have done nothing to harm them.
There is often a great deal of shame associated with being accused of child abuse or neglect. Such allegations can isolate people from friends, neighbors, and family members. Many parents no longer feel welcome in their churches or communities. They are frequently surprised when they learn how common their experiences are.
It is the elephant in the room that people avoid talking about.
However, it is happening to more and more families, as the study authors realized. They concluded:
Child maltreatment investigations are more common than is generally recognized when viewed across the lifespan.
Their recommendation was for “increased preventative and treatment resources in the area of child maltreatment.”
Is that the appropriate conclusion to the data? Or should we look deeper?
We recently reported on a Swedish study that found that increased awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome among medical professionals has led to overdiagnosis of abuse, even when there are other explanations for the symptoms.
Study: Shaken Baby Syndrome Diagnosis Lacks Scientific Evidence – Leads to False Accusations of Child Abuse
Could something similar be happening here, where more than a third of U.S. children have allegations of child abuse reported against the families that are being investigated?
Are Most Cases of Real Child Abuse Now with Children Seized by CPS and in State Custody in Foster Homes?
There is, certainly, an increased societal awareness of child abuse and the need to intervene to protect children who are being harmed. No reasonable person believes that abusing children is acceptable. Indeed, it is now coded as a crime, punishable by time in prison.
In our zeal to protect children from abuse, could we actually be contributing to the very thing we want to prevent?
There is ample evidence to believe that is the case.
The criminal justice system is set up, in theory, to prevent innocent men and women from being imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. A long-standing American value is that it is better that a guilty man go free than an innocent man go to prison.
Those same values do not apply in the family court system, where, in the name of “protecting” children, social workers and judges would rather “err on the side of the child.”
That often means that they would rather remove a child from their home rather than take a chance that the child might be harmed by their family, even if that child is a newborn…even if the family is innocent.
Parents can be reported whether the accusations are true or not. False allegations can come from a vindictive family member or a nosy neighbor. They can come from a doctor who cannot figure out what is wrong with a child, but instead of admitting they don’t know, they accuse the parent. It can be a cover-up for medical malpractice or vaccine injury.
Once children are placed into foster care, their exposure to real child abuse increases greatly. As Texas District Judge Jack wrote in her ruling against the Texas Foster Care system:
…children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.
Most Children in Foster Care Were NOT Taken Out of Their Families for Abuse
The assumption is that Child Protective Services exists to protect children from being abused, yet only a small percentage of children are taken from their families for child abuse.
According to the 2017 AFCARS report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 16% of all the children removed from their homes by Child Protective Services were removed for reasons of physical abuse (12%) and sexual abuse (4%). (Source.)
Most are taken for “neglect” – an ambiguous term that can be interpreted to include dirty dishes in the sink, playing outside in the yard, or simply being poor.
A similar percentage of the allegations against parents are “substantiated” or “founded” – only 17% according to the 2016 Child Maltreatment Report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Source.)
As we have seen many times at Health Impact News, the bar of substantiation is set pretty low. Though it is the equivalent of being found “guilty” in family court, due process is frequently absent.
Deep Levels of Corruption Among CPS Social Workers
Parents are frequently unable to present evidence that would exonerate them, and social workers routinely lie on their reports to parents, their children, and to judges in court.
Reports are often filled with obviously outlandish allegations. Statements made by parents or children are twisted to say something they were not saying at all. The spin makes mainstream media look like amateurs. It is readily apparent that they were written by someone throwing everything that they can think of against the parents in the hope that “something will stick.”
A recent case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals involved the “Right to Lie” by social workers. An attorney representing social workers actually tried to convince the Circuit Court judges that social workers have a “right to lie.”
The judges decreed that social workers do not have a right to lie, and they can lose their immunity from lawsuits if they do. Unfortunately, we have not yet seen the decision impact the practices of social workers involved with families.
Social worker whistle-blowers, Julian J. Dominguez and Melinda Murphy, from Los Angeles County, have co-authored a book titled: A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services.
Both are previous guests on The National Safe Child Show with Tammi Stefano, where they discussed the corruption within child protective services.
Social workers aren’t allowed to include in reports their findings, things that they see and hear. A lot of times information that they determine, based on their observations, based on their experience with the families, is omitted or changed based on the instruction of a supervisor, administrator, or manager.
Quite often positions are taken about parents and families by either a supervisor, administrator, or manager, dictat[ing] what actually goes in the report and especially the recommendations in a report.
We have what I refer to in my book, A Culture of Fear, ghost authors, in many instances.
Intimidation is part of the culture and part of the experience of social workers; they are threatened with subordination if they do not go along with what they are being told to recommend or what they are being told to write in reports. (Full interview here.)
When asked why she left CPS after 10 years of service, Melinda Murphy reported:
Because I had a conscience. I wanted to be able to sleep at night. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror.
When I went to work for them, I thought I’d be working for the children, [and] I’d be working for the families, building on their strengths.
I discovered no, what I am doing is I am working for the Department of Children and Family Services.
I am a PR agent. I’m not protecting the children and the families. I am protecting the Department of Children and Family Services.
And I couldn’t live with that.
It’s doomsville… The system is not working. It’s a very sick system. It’s failed, [and] it cannot heal itself.
This is what I always say to my parents, this is my advice: I always say don’t give up. Because you know deep in your heart that you are the person who loves your children the most…
The social worker is not your friend, not by any stretch of the imagination (Full interview here.)
Children Six Times More Likely to be Molested, Raped, Abused, or Killed in Foster Care
When children are removed from their homes, the results can be devastating. They are statistically in much more danger in foster or adoptive care than they are in their own homes, even if their home was a troubled home.
Chances are that they should never have been removed from their homes. If there was actually abuse or harm involved, the majority of children have relatives or another family they already know who love them and are willing to care for them. Yet most are placed with strangers. That is where the money is for states, thanks to the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
Children are, at least, six times more likely to be molested, raped, abused, or killed in foster care than they are in their own homes.
Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform reports that there is an 80% failure rate of foster care. When compared with non-foster children, he reported that foster children:
- have twice the rate of mental illness
- have a rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is double the rate for Iraq War veterans
- are three times more likely to be living in poverty
- are 15 times less likely to have finished college (Source)
Former foster children are far more likely to be incarcerated than the general public.
What kind of allegations against parents are worth risking what happened to Devani in foster care (see above), or Baby Steffen, or Nhyariah who ended up dying while in state foster care? How does one justify that kind of risk to children?
See Baby Steffen and Nhyariah’s stories:
What kind of allegations against their parents justified what happened recently to the six children taken from their families, who were adopted out to the women who drove them off a cliff in California?
The Corrupt Foster Care and Adoption System: Why Aren’t More Foster and Adoptive Parents Speaking Out?
The statistics are abysmal, yet lobbyists, non-profits, churches, and legislators continue to push for more funding for the failure that is the foster care system.
The system simply isn’t working. It is destroying the very children it purports to protect, and it has become abundantly clear that most of the children who are in the system never should have been placed there.
Even so, the demand to adopt children through the Child Welfare system is high.
Almost 40% of American Families at Risk to Have Their Children Kidnapped by the State
When this data is combined with the findings published in the American Journal of Public Health, alarm bells should be sounding for every family in America.
According to the 2010 Census, there are 74.2 million children under 18 in the United States. If 37.4% of American children will be investigated by Child Protective Services, at some point, by the time they turn 18, that means that the strong arm of the law, via social workers, is investigating almost 28 million children.
Odds are strong that your children or your sister’s or best friend’s children will be investigated.
Will the social worker be one who believes that they are justified in lying about you? Will the allegations be made up? Will they be from a doctor that the court will believe over you, no matter how much evidence to the contrary you have?
Do you have the money to hire an attorney to help you fight? Will your newborn be deprived of vital bonding time and breastfeeding? Will your child be abused or trafficked in foster care while you fight in court? Will you lose family and friends in the face of accusations of things you never did?
The fight for families is not “over there” with “someone else’s children.”
Yours could be the next family investigated. Chances are almost 40% that you will be investigated one day. Isn’t is time to pay attention?
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