Grab and run.
Too many families falsely accused and wrongly prosecuted will literally lose relatives, but they will have no way to recover their children or their once good names. They never will recover emotionally, physically, socially, professionally, financially or in any other way.
An "impact statement" allows real victims to spell out specific injuries in a courtroom in front of convicted perpetrators for the benefit of the judge prior to sentencing. In cases arising from false allegations of child abuse or neglect those offenders are agents of the state. They are nearly wholly immunized no matter how egregious their actions affecting child or family.
Procedural and court processes against parents or caretakers accused are tax-subsidized, paid for by "the people." The State and U.S. Attorney General will defend official offenders of our liberty safeguards spelled out as state and federal constitutional rights but bypassed in administrative law. Reread what the U.S. Supremes opined in DeShaney.
Where are state laws requiring local agencies to "make whole" BR (insofar as objectively possible) families they have hounded-- without offering or providing meaningful services IF wanted or needed--when even their own appeals process finally overturns a wrongful action?
Using improper reports to CPS of child protective services (most morphed agency names now include "family services") and misnamed investigations or assessments, locals start the nightmare, take accused innocents into court after the trauma and stigma of removing children. They leave an insurmountable paper trail. Then, even when the original action is overturned by their own final regulatory appeals process, they are not required to clean up the mess.
That paper mess, by then documents in court files, signal that a person will be hounded for payment of "child support" never owed per foster care orders fraudulently created, not to mention blotched credit records that effectively sandbag employment chances. Consequences of leaving inappropriate court papers also mean myriad other life-changing and destroying results of violating a citizen's civil rights "under color of law" with impunity by those employed and empowered to protect children.
Unless and until those elected to Congress accept and act on their own accountability for appropriating huge amounts of money sent to states--states that funnel money to locals usually without monitoring OR by covering up when the decades-old violations persist-- nothing will change.
Money from Congress is the gas, just as pass-through operations in each state represent the gas-soaked rags. Still, it is the extraconstitutional, uncompassionate and uncompromising actions of unchecked local agents that strike the match against stunned families. Is no one responsible for the resulting conflagration that dis-members society's most vital building block, the family?
Anyone to Blame?
Anyone over age 18 may be affected by a baseless allegation. Anyone under 18 may be labeled a "victim," whether or not true. A dependent adult may fall on either side. Laws threatening to prosecute anyone over the age of 14 who makes a false report were enacted to frighten briefly angry falsely accusing teens. If a recantation (he/she really did nothing to me) wrecks the story a prosecutor needs, the law against making false allegations may be perverted.
No able and articulate professional, politician, entertainer or influential sports figure (and forget media that play up occasional sensational individual cases of false allegations) wants to appear to be on the side of an ACCUSED child abuser or neglecter. Nearly every influential publisher or producer or spouse, anyone prominent in any field, is an active or honorary member of a locally based or national child abuse prevention organization. Numbers of those groups are funded, minimally tax-exempt, by one to three levels of government.
"Education" funding to instruct how to recognize and prosecute, f or example, the emotive but baseless theory of "Munchausen Syndrome by B R Proxy" (MSP) is in the Department of Justice budget. Among effects BR of much scientifically baseless education is the disappearance of conservatively thousands of children, including infants from the delivery room moved straight to pre-adoptive homes per 1997 federal legislation.
Groundswells of pro-adoption publicity--minus the truth that too many never abused children become Paper Orphans by the stroke of a judge's pen--leave no place for mistakenly or maliciously reported parents to stand in hope a newborn and siblings will be returned by government agents or proxies who raced away with them. Forget ever reading or hearing an apology: that might suggest there was accidental or deliberate error in agent judgment or from an underinformed or overly influenced bench.
Heaven help anyone with a child manifesting a genetic disorder such as "brittle bone," or reaction from doctor-prescribed medicines or state-mandated vaccines, not to mention environmental concerns (mold blowing through a home's air ducts affecting a baby's breathing) or an undiagnosed infection and other discoverable but deliberately not sought triggers labeled "child abuse."
April is always worst
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Never seems to be the month that common sense, required competence and Constitutional safeguards will be permitted or demanded to clear false allegations of child abuse or neglect. Frankly, the label sticks, inside and out, for the accused and involved children no matter what happens to the paper. It sticks even when the children mature and do their utmost to speak after prosecutors and other officials cannot silence them.
When can we prevent family abuse that invariably traumatizes children removed from never-abusing homes? What about innocent parents behind bars, convicted because discredited theory was accepted by a judge who ignored or ruled out objective science? Not even proving that the prosecution paraded perjurious witness, the jury was tainted and tampered with, exculpatory information was withheld for decades and worse has been able to free more than one innocent mother.
In UK where the MSP label was coined and made public in a Lancet article in August 1977, incarcerated parents are being freed as an educated public derides its originator's claim that he shredded his notes. His motivation theory, never peer reviewed or replicated, is "discredited" where it began but still widely used. Freeing B R innocents in UK is a start and an appropriate example for reluctant courts in America.
When will we halt reallocation of children for praise and profit to both local agents who take them and homes that offer a new "forever B R family" while depositing post-adoption subsidies, enjoying Medicaid B R coverage, respite care and so much never offered or available to families with chronically ill children.
Those very ill children--"over-utilizing" the system because efforts of their strongest advocates, their parents--bring with them the largest continuing tax-paid subsidies and services to a new and less demanding residence. I've dubbed them cash calves, as newspaper series on group home abuses (North Carolina's Charlotte Observer and Fayetteville Observer) prove they are.
Who will be responsible when cousins and siblings date and marry because they have no idea where they originated, that they shared one or both parents in common?
Isn't that a good enough reason--protecting "our" children from marrying a close relative without realizing it--to turn a common concern into common sense? Is this April finally the time to clearly differentiate between actions used against a person falsely accused of child abuse and actions against a one who is actually guilty?
Child Abuse Prevention Month should recognize the right of a child to be protected from wrongful removal from a loving home (or extended family if the home is unsafe). Are we keeping the "numbers B R of reports" up at the expense of "our" children's future? God-given DNA connects children to family no matter what kind of American CPS Shuffle is tax-subsidized?
**The above may be reprinted and circulated as long as writer's name, email and (c) symbol are included. Barbara Bryan (BHBryan@aol.com) April 25, 2005
Barbara Bryan (BBryan@aol.com)
National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center
Phone : 540-345-1952
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