In part one of this two part series, we looked at two of the most common instances in which false allegations of abuse crop up. In part two we will be breaking down the remaining two instances. It’s important to note that while these four situations make up the majority of the circumstances in which fictional abuses are reported, they aren’t the only ones. People are falsely accused of abuse for all kinds of reasons, and it’s tragic every single time.
Mistakes and Misunderstandings
Because of heightened public awareness of child abuse in recent years, people are far more alert to the signs and symptoms of abuse now that they were in the past. Don’t misunderstand us, we believe this is a good thing! However, it also means that there are far more instances of false reports made by people who misunderstand something a child said that was completely innocent.
Something as simple as “my mommy hurt me and I didn’t like it” could be referring to an instance of abuse, or a situation where a child was spanked for trying to stick something into an electrical outlet. Because the action is dangerous and deadly, and the parent responded with a swift and severe consequence, it’s still fresh in the child’s mind.
Another example would be a statement like, “My daddy played with me in bed yesterday.” This could mean that something unacceptable took place involving that child, or it could mean that a father spent a few minutes at bedtime playing a game with his son or daughter before tucking them in. Many statements can have multiple meanings and it’s always best to find out the truth before making a false report and potentially ruining someone’s life.
Suggestive Questioning & Leading Answers
False allegations that stem from suggestive questioning are what happens when a social worker, CPS caseworker, or police officer questions a child in a suggestive way. This means that the interviewer questions the child such a way as to “suggest” which answers they want to receive. This can be done either deliberately or accidentally. Children are highly suggestible, which means that the use of leading questions, or faulty interviewing techniques, can result in a child giving a false testimony.
In most of these instances, the child doesn’t provide false testimony out of malice. Rather, they do it because children inherently want to please the adults they are with. Therefore, they tend to provide the answers they think will make that adult happy. In this way, a child’s renditions of events can become distorted as they seek to please their interviewer.
Current statistics vary widely, showing that anywhere from 1% (the National Leadership Council) to 75% (the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform) of reported abuses are false. But regardless of which statistics are the more accurate, the facts do show that false allegations happen.
If you or a loved one have been falsely accused of abusing a child, you must contact us immediately. False allegations of abuse result in very complex cases, and the sooner we are able to start work on building your defense and protecting your rights, the sooner you will have a chance of getting your future back. Call us today at 517-886-1000. This is a very difficult time, but we are here to help you.