SHALALA'S DHHS OVERSTATES CHILD ABUSE BY OVER 400%
IRONICALLY, SHALALA - A SELF-DESCRIBED "SERIOUS CATHOLIC", "DISAGREES" WITH THE POPE AND U.S. CARDINALS AND DEFENDS BILL (MR. ABORTION) CLINTON'S VETO OF THE PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN.
THIS DHHS EXPLOITATION OF THE CHILD ABUSE ISSUE COMES AT A TIME WHEN FATHERS SEEKING CUSTODY OF THEIR CHILDREN, IN MOTHER-INITIATED DIVORCE ACTIONS, ARE BEING COERCED INTO DEFENDING THEMSELVES AGAINST A 2000% INCREASE IN FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE.
Source: "Child Maltreatment 1994: Reports from the States to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Administration for Children and Families" (NCANDS)/ Released April, 1996 - National Child Abuse Month.
The following Statements are quoted from the DHSS/NCANDS Report:
1. "The number of children who were the subject of reports of alleged maltreatment increased from 2.6 million in 1990 to 2.9 million in 1994."
2. "The number of substantiated or indicated victims of maltreatment increased from 798,318 in 1990 to 1,011,628 in 1994, an increase of almost 27 percent."
3. "Child Protective Services agencies identified almost 5,400 children who died as a result of abuse or neglect from 1990 through 1994."
4. "An estimated 2.9 million children were reported as alleged victims of maltreatment."
5. "The 1994 rate of children in reports was 43 children per 1,000 children younger than 18 years of age in the general population."
6. "Forty-eight States provided information on the investigation dispositions of 2,659,131 children."
DA*DI HAS THOROUGHLY REVIEWED THE DATA FROM THE NCANDS REPORT AND FOUND SIGNIFICANT, IF NOT DRAMATIC, DISCREPANCIES AND METHODOLOGICAL FLAWS.
DA*DI vs DHHS COMPARATIVE STATISTICS:
ABUSE CATEGORIES: Total Reported "Children" Type of Abuse: NEGLECT Type of Abuse: PHYSICAL Type of Abuse: SEXUAL Type of Abuse: EMOTIONAL Rate Per 1000: TOTAL DHHS CLAIMS: (see "data sources" below) 2,900,000 530,873 255,907 138,554 47,079 43 Per DA*DI analysis: "SUBSTANTIATED", UNDUPLICATED - ACTUAL: 610,208 285,577 131,805 71,394 24,268 9 "SUBSTANTIATED" STATED AS A PERCENTAGE: (see "level of evidence" below) 100.0 46.8 21.6 11.7 0.4 note: "other" category has not been included in this comparison RATES PER 1000: (68,024,000 population under 18) 9 4 2 1 .04 9 RATES EXPRESSED AS % OF TOTAL "Reported" 4.3% "**Subst." .09% ** .04% ** .02% ** .01% ** .004% .09% (less than 1%)
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT METHODOLOGICAL FLAWS:
1. The category Total Reported "Children" includes and combines both "unduplicated" and "duplicated" data from the reporting states. This figure would be more accurately labeled Total Reported "Incidents", because what is actually being reported is both singular incidents involving one child, and multiple incidents involving one child. The result of this mix of apples and oranges is a gross misrepresentation of the actual levels of abuse in America. The recalculated figure of 610,208 "substantiated" cases of one-child abuse was obtained by comparing "unduplicating" State data with "duplicating" State data. The categorical figures were then derived applying the same percentage representations as in the original data to the new corrected total.
2. The breakdown of "Types of Abuse" is also subject to the same kind of inclusion, meaning that the rates within categories are virtually meaningless in that the data combines multiple forms of abuse involving one child. This data has been retained as initially presented by percentage allocations. Nevertheless, it is clear that these NCANDS reports have been provided to numerous individuals, courts and agencies throughout the country - grossly misinforming these groups.
3. As one moves from table to table and graph to graph in the NCANDS report, the data in the various categories changes, so that one cannot trace a given piece of data from one source to another as being substantiated/unsubstantiated; unduplicated/duplicated; incident/child, etc.
4. "Definitions" in all areas of labeled "abuse", "substantiated", "data source", and "Children/Victims" are so vague or misleading as to be virtually meaningless.
5. No data is provided as to "Family Constellation" when DHHS reports that 77 to 81 percent of all abuse is "perpetrated by parents." Thus, we do not know from this data whether the "parents" are single or married, male or female, or cohabiting. This is a gross misrepresentation at a time when Fathers are being made most suspect, despite previous knowledge that 60% or more "parental abuse" is perpetrated by mothers, and that children in single- and step-parent homes are at greater risk. The absence of this data is misleading to family courts where custody is in dispute, and fails to provide vital information that might be used to target "at risk" populations for intervention.
6. When DHHS reports a 27% increase in "substantiated" or "indicated" "Victims" of maltreatment, it is essentially indicating; a.) an increase in allegations, b.) the success of it's own Child Abuse Promotion "awareness" campaign, c.) the broadening of vague definitions of abuse and substantiation, d.) the success of its own requirements which promote the generation of reporting at the local DHHS office level in order to maintain and qualify for funding.
7. What DHHS fails to identify as critical factors influencing increases in abuse allegations are; a.) corresponding increases in population, b.) corresponding increases in divorces, c.) corresponding increases in single-parenthood (the latter two being funded by DHHS), d.) corresponding increases in abuse allegations accompanying divorce/custody proceedings (actively encouraged and assisted by DHHS).
8. Given the broad disparities between State reporting systems, many categories and data groups range from 9 to 48 State inclusion, with limited consistency across groups.
9. These summary comments and the following data analyses and specific comments raise the question whether the DHSS/NCANDS report has any relation to reality.
SPECIFIC METHODOLOGICAL / REPORTING FLAWS:
"SOURCES OF DATA AND DATA COLLECTION METHODS" FOR "REPORTING"
DATA SOURCE INDICATED: NUMBER OF STATES INDICATING: "No Information Supplied:" 5 Questionable or Unclear Sources: 13 System Being "Revised": 2 "HotLine" Phone Reports: 3 "Automated State Data System": 27 "Computer Generated Data": 3 Given the importance and impact of these reports and the resulting social outcomes, it is very disturbing that nearly half of the reporting states have reporting systems that are virtually anecdotal and unreliable. In many cases, the data is being handled by three or four different individuals or departments before arriving at a central source, providing multiple opportunities for data degradation. _________________________________________________________________
"LEVELS OF EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE REPORTS"
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: NUMBER OF STATES USING: "No Information Supplied": 8 "Some Credible Evidence": 16 "Credible evidence": 10 "Level of Risk": 1 "Preponderance of Evidence": 11 "Fair Preponderance": 1 "More Than 50% Credible Evidence": 1 "Probable Cause": 1 "Substantial and Material Evidence": 1 "Clear and Convincing Evidence": 1 "Caseworker Determination": 1
1. It must be noted that once a "report" of abuse is "substantiated", the alleged pepetrator is then placed on the State Registry of abusers. That does not mean that they have been convicted in a Court of Law, only that they have been "substantiated". If they subsequently clear themselves in court, they must then petition DHHS for expunction from the State Registry.
2. The absence of clear and consistent criteria across reporting States, makes all of the resulting data suspect. Further, the fact that many of the "caseworkers" making these determinations possess minimal education (B.A.) or specific training, makes the "substantiated" report highly suspect. Finally, even when the "caseworker" is a master's level, trained evaluator, their personal autonomy in making these decisions is highly questionable both from an ethical and constitutional perspective. It is ludicrous that a decision which so dramatically impinges on the alleged "perpetrators" life, and that of their children in the case of parents, should be made outside a formal courtroom.
3. The fact is that a "substantiated" report of abuse remains nothing more than an "allegation", based on as little as "some credible evidence" or "fair preponderance".
CONSIDER THE VAGUE DEFINITIONS OF "ABUSE" AS APPLIED BY STATES:
NEGLECT: (Ratings: Severe, general, caretaker absence, or incapacity) "Failed to provide needed care even though financially able to do so; or was offered means to do so" NOTE: Death from abuse or neglect in the U.S. was 1,111 children in 1996, or 1.6 children per 100,000.
MEDICAL NEGLECT: "Withholding appropriate health care or perinatal exposure to drugs."
PHYSICAL ABUSE: "Physical acts caused or could have caused physical injury to child."
SEXUAL ABUSE: "Sexually exploitative activities."
EMOTIONAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT: "Acts that caused or could cause serious behavioral or mental disorders."
It is clear from the vagueness of the above definitions that "caseworkers" are given ludicrous levels of power in people's lives. For example, from the above definitions a parent could be held to be abusive for allowing their child to be exposed to cigarette smoke; for allowing their child to be seen nude in the tub by a neighbor; for taking their child to the funeral of a close relative; or for allowing their child to go rollerblading without elbow and knee pads. I have in fact, direct knowledge of a parent whose child was removed from the home for not being allowed to go to Disneyland.
When you consider the above statistics, remember that more than one million abortions, including Partial Birth Abortions, go unpunished in America each year. Consider as well, that more than one million children are exposed to the separation or divorce of their parents each year. And finally, consider that more than 40% of all American children under the age of 18 do not live in the same house as their natural Father.
Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D. President DA*DI
DEPRIVING CHILDREN OF FATHERS REMAINS THE MOST POPULAR, UNPUNISHABLE FORM OF CHILD ABUSE IN AMERICA TODAY.
May 1, 1996
Senator Charles E. Grassley 135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510-1501
Dear Senator Grassley,
It is alarming to see a report produced and distributed by the United States Government that is as distorted and methodologically flawed as that produced by D.H.H.S. with regard to Child Abuse. As a social scientist, and a reviewer of articles submitted to journals, I am appalled by the lack of objectivity, in fact, outright misrepresentation that pervades the NCANDS summary - as I have outlined in the attached materials.
One must also seriously question the motivation of Secretary Shalala in condoning this alarmist publication, while simultaneously defending and downplaying the practice of Partial Birth Abortions. This is the worst form of disingenuousness, and suggests that Secretary Shalala is motivated primarily by the justification of funding for the DHHS behemoth, rather than any genuine concern for children. DA*DI unequivocally decries any form of child abuse - but this kind of sensationalism will ultimately do more to diminish it as a public concern in the same way that television violence has inured us to human suffering. Therefore, DA*DI requests that you join us in calling for responsible science and reporting. We also ask you to support criminalization, as a felony, false allegations of Child Abuse by a party to a divorce proceeding (which tend to damage children as much as the accused parent), and for Partial Birth Abortions, as warranted under DHHS guidelines for abuse and neglect.
Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D. President - DA*DI
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