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Mistaken Cases of Child Abuse Can Cause CPS to Come Knocking

The Collin County Law Group Nov. 28, 2019

One of the worst nightmares any family can face in Texas is losing their children to Child Protective Services. Sometimes well-meaning professionals, friends and even family members may report instances as abuse that were legitimate accidents. According to NBC News, this was the case for one Texas family last year.

On a hot summer day, a mother set her 5-month-old son down on a lawn chair. He fell two feet onto concrete while her back was turned for just a moment. Despite the short fall, the baby suffered two skull fractures. Doctors did not believe one fall could account for both. As required by law, they shared their concerns with CPS. Weeks later, a caseworker arrived with a court order to take both their children.

There is a special group of medical professionals tasked with identifying potential abuse. These child abuse pediatricians play an indispensable role in child welfare. However, they do make mistakes and those mistakes can cause families great heartache and strife. Medical staff is not the only professionals tasked with identifying potential abuse. Law enforcement often plays this role as well.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice published a guide to help law enforcement officers identify and investigate cases of potential child abuse. Here are some of the objectives law enforcement officers must cover:

  • Discovering the age of bruises

  • Determining the type and the nature of burns

  • Ruling out injuries caused by medical conditions

  • Distinguishing between accidental and intentional injuries

Law enforcement officers can make mistakes too. In these and similar instances, parents may find themselves called on to challenge accusations in court and prove that they are not abusive.