The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 March 2006

Rather crummy odds, considering

Sean Gleeson has looked into the matter, and he estimates between 80 and 90 percent of child abuse/neglect investigations in this state prove to be bogus.

DHS annual report for FY '04, the latest released, is here; you'll need Adobe Reader. Here's Sean's take:

Every investigation of child abuse or neglect has two possible outcomes: "confirmed" or "unconfirmed." If any of the allegations is true, or if any of the children have ever been abused or neglected in any way at all, the result is "confirmed." "Unconfirmed" is just the OKDHS's way of saying "completely innocent."

In Fiscal Year 2004, fully 80 percent of all Oklahoma abuse and neglect investigations resulted in an "unconfirmed" finding. Some of these might have been real abusers who just managed to avoid detection, but the rest of them were completely innocent people falsely accused of child abuse. When considered with the "screened out" reports that don't even merit an investigation, this means that almost 90 percent of all child abuse reports in Oklahoma are found to be absolutely groundless.

I need hardly point out that some of them are more groundless than others.

Posted at 1:52 PM to Soonerland

Uh, not exactly. "Unconfirmed" only means there wasn't enough evidence at the time to confirm the abuse allegations. It definitely doesn't necessarily mean innocence, nor that the reports are groundless.

Posted by: rita at 2:16 PM on 15 March 2006

Darn those blockquotes, anyway.

(Which is why I identified it as his take.)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:39 PM on 15 March 2006

This makes me sick. Literally sick. I think of Alex and Abe and numerous other children whom I could not help. Perhaps a reference to "A Child Called It" could make all the prestidigitation shake clear. Failure to document child abuse is not absence of child abuse. It's heart breaking what goes on. I wish I could be an instrument to stop it... sadly, I often cannot.

Posted by: Dr. Jan at 10:58 PM on 15 March 2006

I know exactly what you mean, Dr. Jan.

Posted by: rita at 6:24 AM on 16 March 2006

I can understand the need for the DHS system on one hand and Sean's feelings about his families unjust treatment on the other. I hate to bring in the proverbial "friend" to the fray but a good friend of mine who has worked for DHS and later the probation system had some comments on this. We discussed this situation and read the blog several times. He quickly pointed out the fact that this evil Realtor was able to divert all that manpower and effort away from the REAL cases. Some kid who really NEEDED a visit that day didnt get one because this bottom feeding idiot (Jabba the realtor) decided to game the system. My friend goes on to say that in his opinion this kind of targeting happens occasionally; he says it is much more prevalent that it is one persons interpretation of neglect versus another. While he acknowledges there are definitely abuse cases at worst and neglect at least (the majority of cases are just that ... neglect he says)the majority ARE unconfirmed once the situation is balanced with experienced and objective 3rd party eyes the truth can come out. The burden of proof is pretty high for actual abuse and even while the cases can be "unconfirmed" as a result the authorities will or are supposed to "monitor" the situations for further evidence. He does not negate the affect that neglect , even mild neglect has on children but says it is obvious in this case it would appear the folks were targeted by a vindictive individual. He wishes there was a system in place for punishing people who use the system for nefarious purposes but acknowledges the anonymity of it helps make it more easy to report and some spectacular cases have come out of such tips. He also says most seasoned DHS folks are pretty sensitive to the potential for abuse of the process others are merely apparatchiks and therein lies the problem of the system itself.

Posted by: Ron at 10:58 AM on 16 March 2006

Rita, and Dr. Jan:

Of course "unconfirmed" does not necessarily mean innocence, and of course failure to document child abuse is not absence of child abuse. I believe I noted this in the very quote Charles cited, when I said, "Some of these might have been real abusers," et seq.

But this tautology is true of any and all crimes. Generally speaking, if there is no evidence that you (for instance) committed arson, or burglary, or smuggling, or what-have-you, then the phrase "completely innocent" would be a more accurate descriptor of your legal status than "unconfirmed."

Posted by: Sean Gleeson at 1:06 PM on 16 March 2006