Study Shows Four Out of Five Child Abuse Allegations are False
Child abuse is a heinous reality of life in America. It happens. However, in far too many cases, such allegations turn out to be false, say child abuse attorneys in Gainesville.
Each year, upwards of 3.6 million reported incidents of child abuse are investigated in America. But every year, more than 2.8 million of those reports prove false. That’s a whopping four out of five reports that turn out to be bogus. In a major federal study, the National Incidence Study (commonly known as NIS2), researchers reviewed records of child protective workers and found that they were at least twice as likely – as much as six times more likely in some cases – to wrongly accuse an innocent family of child abuse as they were to wrongly label a guilty family innocent.
Much of the trouble lies in the wide swath of authority that child protective services workers have in the way they label families guilty based upon their suspicions and opinions and to enter those families in state child abuse registers. For instance, in many states, the standard for deeming child abuse allegations “substantiated” is that a child protective worker believe that it is slightly more likely than not that maltreatment of a child actually occurred. In other states, workers are authorized to label a case substantiated if he or she claims “credible evidence” of maltreatment, even if more evidence to the contrary exists.
Another issue is that many state laws governing just what actions or non-actions can be deemed abuse or neglect are incredibly broad, allowing for unfounded guilty labels. For instance, many low-income families have guilty marks on their records simply because they’re financially unable to provide their children with the same things that wealthier families can. And, in a move that some would argue ultimately is to both the child’s and the family’s benefit, child protective workers often deliberately mislabel innocent parents as being guilty. That’s because programs exist to help families in crisis avoid situations that can be considered child abuse or neglect. But those programs often are willing to provide help only after a family is officially accused of maltreatment.
Even when an abuse allegation is proven false in court, the damage is done and cannot fully be undone. Tarnished reputations and lingering suspicions can affect a person’s ability to find work and to be accepted in segments of society including neighborhoods, churches and civic organizations.
If you have been wrongly accused or have been alleged to have committed such a crime, help is available from experienced child abuse defense attorneys. Gainesville’s Law Offices of Edwards & Jones has helped many false child abuse allegation victims clear their names, regain their rights and begin to rebuild their reputations. Contact us at 352.377.7800.