A new report out of Penn State University has revealed some troubling facts about how parents in Pennsylvania are treated when there are allegations of child abuse.
According to the study, only about 25% of cases where child sexual abuse and exploitation are alleged end up being recorded as “indicated,” meaning that the Children & Youth Services investigator believes that they’re founded. Parents who are “indicated” as a child abuser automatically have the right to take their case to the Bureau of Hearings and Appeal. When they do, about 70% of cases are overturned.
Critics of the system say that this is a sign that not enough is being done to protect children from exploitation and abuse. They say that the appeals process is too secretive and requires far too much evidence to be “enough” to show that abuse has occurred.
However, there’s a flip side to this study that the researchers may not be considering. If only one-quarter of alleged abuse and exploitations are “indicated” in the first place, and less than a third of those cases appealed are confirmed, that might also be a sign that there are too many parents suffering the stigma of allegations in the first place — and that investigators are not doing enough to weed out frivolous and outright false allegations in the first place. A 70% reversal rate says that something is, indeed, very wrong with the system, but it may not be what researchers think.
If you’ve been accused of child abuse and the local Children and Youth agency has gotten involved, you’re in a very serious situation. To limit the consequences to your life and protect your family, talk to an experienced attorney right away.