According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway, out of approximately 2.1 million reports of child abuse or neglect in 2013, investigations revealed that only about 20 percent of them were valid claims, slanting heavily toward neglect. Although foster children file a fair number of claims, the majority of alleged perpetrators were biological parents.
Each Minnesota family lawyer at our firm can attest to the complex issues that arise once someone makes an invalid claim of child abuse — and the often-irreparable damage these claims can have on entire families.
Why People Make False Child Abuse Claims
Few issues capture the attention of legal authorities and the courts more than claims of child abuse, and rightfully so. Since children are so vulnerable, it makes sense that any official must err on the side of caution to stop the pain and protect the children. Unfortunately, not all claims are true.
Since child abuse claims carry so much power, some individuals use them as weapons. Divorcing parents in the midst of heated child custody battles may claim child abuse as a means for gaining full control of the children.
In fact, children may even make false allegations to a school teacher or counselor to punish parents for imposing heavy punishments when their wrongdoing requires parental disciplinary action.
Unfortunately, accusers seldom fully realize that false child abuse allegations can permanently destroy their families.
False Allegations Can Irreparably Damage Entire Families
Clearly, people convicted of child abuse cannot expect a perfect life, even after paying their dues to society. Still, since these allegations are so serious, even individuals who have been falsely accused — and their entire families — often experience immediate unfair challenges that can extend throughout their lives. The following are just a few of the issues:
- Continued criminal prosecution: When a victim or other individual recants charges, authorities generally do not stop criminal prosecution. Operating on the understanding that abusers have the power to compel victims to take back their statements, law enforcement officials do not take recantation as seriously as they take the original charges.
- Permanent family alienation: Abuse allegations are so severe that they can break the bonds within families. Regardless of whether family members support the accusers or the alleged abusers, even a not-guilty verdict cannot always repair the rift.
- Effects on employment and social relationships: Charges of child abuse travel with accused individuals, even if the charges are dropped or the courts arrive at a not-guilty verdict. As long as any individual is aware of these accusations, questions can arise that make it challenging to seek employment or even retain friendships.
Once child abuse allegations enter the criminal justice system, there is no guarantee that falsely-accused individuals can fully avoid all long-lasting effects. In the heat of an argument, however, they may hear threats of allegations before law enforcement actually becomes involved in their cases.
Clearly, this is the best time to seek support from an experienced Minnesota family law attorney, who may offer options involving early intervention to prevent the charges from moving forward.
Call us at 763-323-6555 or use our convenient contact form to obtain the most effective possible legal support to help prevent false allegations or to help minimize the long term effects if child abuse charges have already entered the legal system.