Tong’s Take On Coaching
Perhaps Child Protective Services (CPS), the child’s therapist, law enforcement, your attorney, or even the judge, thinks or wrote in intake reports, progress notes, arrest reports, pleadings, and/or court orders your child may have been coached by one parent to falsely accuse the other. Let’s examine “coaching.” This is not a sports game, but cognitive child developmental psychology, and here coaching is tantamount to an act committed in bad faith.
In other words, here coaching is consistent with a parent maliciously poisoning a child’s mind in hopes that same child will wrongly implicate the other parent of abuse. In any case of coaching, a parent has motive, method and opportunity to “get” the other parent by wielding her/his child as a pawn, weapon or tool for the express purpose of garnering equity-at-law in court. Coaching requires one parent project her/his own pathology onto a child. If that child is young, more likely than not, s/he will be highly susceptible to suggestibility.
Most young children will acquiesce to a parent’s directives, if for no other reason than to please that parent. In high conflict divorces and custody battles, young children are extremely vulnerable to parental alienation, which by its very definition is an emotional and psychological form of child abuse. Can a child be coached by a parent to falsely accuse another of sexual abuse? Absolutely! But, it’s much more the exception than the rule. Only 2% – 5% of all child abuse allegations are reported with malice aforethought and in bad faith. And to spin a line from the movie Law Abiding Citizen, “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove in court.”
So, how does one prove a child has become the victim of coaching? There are only three (3) ways you can prove in court your child has been coached, so please take heed:
- One parent admits in her/his deposition or at hearing/trial, or to CPS, or another mandated reporter, s/he coached the child to exact revenge against the other.
- The parent falsely accused has a video/audio of the other parent coaching the child.
- The child admits in her/his forensic interview or to a therapist e.g. “mommy made me say bad things about my daddy” (most probable scenario).
The point is, in most cases, although you may be the victim of a false child abuse allegation, it will not be due to the fact your kid has been coached to say bad things about you. Coaching is oftentimes misapplied and wrongly applied by well-meaning, but misguided professionals in child protection cases. Most of the time (about 67% or 2/3), unfounded or false child sex abuse cases are the end product of source monitoring errors committed by system professionals and alleged child victims themselves and resultant source misattribution errors. In other words, there are other possible sources or origins for the alleged abuse and alternative hypotheses to explain the reason behind the child’s outcry or disclosure. Most of the time, errors of commission and/or omission will be committed by CPS and combined with the alleged child victim’s affinity to suggestibility, mistakes are made, and erroneous court dispositions occur.
Unfortunately, because the system proceeds via the mind set “Children do not lie and cannot be mistaken about abuse and must be believed and protected at all costs and we got our guy,” it’s up to the defense to attempt to prove a negative and that the accused has indeed been wrongly or falsely accused. If you, the accused, and/or your attorney, need help in preparing a competent defense please consider Dean Tong’s forensic consultant services or expert witness services