FALSE ABUSE ALLEGATIONS – IN THE BEST INTEREST OF WHOM?
by Dean Tong, MSc.
May 16, 2007
Recently published studies by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) in Child Maltreatment 2005 indicated for that year over 60% of the 2 – 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect in America were unsubstantiated. A study by psychologists Hickman and Reynolds from Texas A&M University found that non-abused children treated as truly abused victims were emotionally and psychologically traumatized and that the same, via therapies, were falsely deluded into believing they had been genuinely abused. I referenced this very important study in my book Elusive Innocence and my recently published scientific article in The American Journal of Family Therapy.
Family court judges across America are legally obligated to rule “in the children’s best interests.” Of course, in alleged child molestation cases where custody is oftentimes the trophy at the end of the litigation rainbow, these same judges “err on the side of caution, on the side of the children.” Why is that? Because the maxim is kids don’t lie about being sexually abused and it’s better we sweep up 99 wounded innocents than let one possible abuser free to “re-abuse.”
But, there’s more to it than that. Let’s examine how many types of false or erroneous accusers there are: You have your vindictive and malicious accuser who is out for blood and who accuses in bad faith with premeditated malice aforethought; You have your undiagnosed and untreated borderline personality or delusional accuser who is unwilling to accept alternative hypotheses; You have your protective parent model accuser who is mistaken but is willing to accept other possible reasons or sources, and you have your accuser who is correct in that the child has been abused but it’s a mistake in identity – you have the wrong guy.
Factor the different types of accusers with the fact that American family court judges must make their orders based on prima facie, a preponderance of the evidence or 51%, combined with political pressure from women’s, rape and assault organizations, and there’s no wonder why so many non-abused kids are taken from non-abusive caregivers, with many even being placed into truly abusive foster care homes.
It’s vital that professionals who enter the child protection system, albeit, attorneys including GALs, judges, therapists, nurses, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, child protective investigators and police officers be open-minded. They must not suffer from confirmation bias and carry baggage from their last case into the new case they are now handling. They must not possess pre-conceived notions the accused is already guilty because the allegations against him are so reprehensible. And in doing so, it’s incumbent upon these same professionals, who ultimately will decide the future fates of families thrown into the vast net of our child protection system, read “all” of the scientific literature, not just cherry pick what they want to read.
Studies by Ceci & Bruck, Lamb & Poole, Martindale & Gould, yours truly, et al, clearly depict that not all scientific protocols and experts are created equal and that there’s another side to what is happening in many contested abuse cases across America. Subjecting children to invasive rape examinations by colposcopy and multiple forensic interviews, unless there’s a compelling need to do so, is clearly not in their best interests.
Forcing a child to submit to anatomically incorrect dolls, puppets or drawings (collectively known as play therapies), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and/or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) “before” a judge has made a finding of fact and conclusion of law a child has in fact been sexually abused, is clearly not in that child’s best interest. Perhaps, the aforementioned scenarios only serve the “best interests” of a system that has a compelling need to continue its wheels in motion for the sake of mind set, money, and might.