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When Falsely Accused of Child Abuse or Neglect

When Falsely Accused of Child Abuse or Neglect

In today’s hyper-sensitive age, false reports of child abuse are common.  Many professionals that work with children are required by law to report suspected abuse to authorities.  Consequences for failing to report can be severe, so many err on the side of reporting.  It is not always easy to tell the difference between an injury caused by a rambunctious toddler falling down and one caused by an abusive kick.  Child abuse allegations can also be made in bad faith during a divorce or similar dispute.  Plus, most child protective services departments are required to investigate every report of suspected abuse.

Though no two situations are exactly the same, if you find yourself accused of child abuse you should immediately consider taking the following actions:

Do build a record of support

Contact anyone that you think will support your side of the story, including the child’s teachers, doctors, and friends.  Also, contact your neighbors and anyone else that sees you with the child so they can attest to your proper treatment of the child.  

Do limit your time alone with the child

Depending on your situation, this may be easy or hard.  If you are a teacher accused of abusing a student, obviously you should steer clear of ever being alone with that child.  On this other hand, if you are accused of abusing your own child it may be more difficult.  But in that situation, it may be time for the child to visit grandma until the situation is sorted out.  

Do remain calm and respectful

The modern child protective system was created to force the review of suspected abuse, even if that is occasionally awkward for a wrongfully-accused individual.  The professionals involved are just doing their job and they have probably seen many truly abusive situations, so it is best not to put them on high alert by overreacting.  

Also Read: Steps to Protect Children from Abuse

Do hire an experienced attorney

A finding of child abuse can be a stain that is impossible to remove from your reputation, and a child abuse investigation is best handled by professionals.  

There is no easy way to put this, but if you are under investigation for child abuse you are in a tough situation.  You should do all you can to avoid making the situation worse:

Don’t make any unnecessary admissions

It is often best to treat the investigation much like a criminal case (in part because it could become one) and avoid answering any questions without a lawyer present.  It can be easy to make statements that are held against you later.

Also Read: How to Avoid Child Abuse?

Don’t just wait for things to just work themselves out

People often want to just wait for accusations to blow over.  This is usually a mistake, and it is typically best to aggressively work to clear your name.  

Don’t misbehave

Do not lash out at your accuser or investigators.  Do not make light of the situation with inappropriate or disrespectful jokes.  Perhaps most importantly, do not do anything that even remotely resembles the behavior you are accused of.  You will be under the microscope and people will be looking to confirm their suspicions.

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