Henry County Online

June 12, 2002

"What to do about false allegations?"

By Tony Zizza
Henry County Online

Let's reform the Henry County Department of Family and Children Services. In fact, let's reform all DCFS agencies in Georgia. Why? Why reform? Why reform now?

It seems we're immersed in a plethora of sexual abuse scandals. Allegations abound. Most offensive are those which involve children. Sexual allegations "made against" or "made by" children initiate intense investigations.

However, and herein, lies the problem. The problem is particularly troublesome at the Henry County DFCS.  The problem also represents an absolute disgrace on the face of Georgia, given our trust in the proper functioning of our DFCS agencies.

I did some research. I discovered scary statistics which come from Georgia's Child Protection Services report for State Fiscal Year 2001. I think many adults and children accused of child abuse/neglect are falsely accused; thus they're victims themselves worthy of compensation from their accusers and the DCFS agency where the false allegations originated.

Let's take a look.

In 2001, Henry County DFCS investigated a total of 846 allegations of child abuse/neglect. Of that number, 226 remain open as substantiated and 95 substantiated allegations are closed. But hold on to your britches. There are 4 allegations posted as unsubstantiated, yet remain open. Please continue to hold on to your britches. Henry County DCFS investigated 521 allegations which are closed as unsubstantiated! Most disturbing is the fact Henry County DCFS screened out only 96 allegations.

Are they presuming all those accused, even children in the middle of custody disputes, are guilty until proven innocent? Doesn't matter if the accused is perhaps a fifteen year old female; the accuser is a five year old male, (but more likely, studies show, a parent coaching the child) - the accused are presumed guilty.

It appears the Henry County DFCS doesn't believe the harsh reality and cruelty of false allegations. When they post high numbers of closed unsubstantiated cases, and scant numbers of allegations screened out, it seems asinine they don't post allegations which have proven to be - false. Reports of unsubstantiated closed cases is the politically correct way to avoid speaking of false allegations of abuse; a scourge in Henry County and throughout Georgia.

We could learn a lot from Dean Tong, author of "Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide For The Falsely Accused." In 1998, 71 percent of confirmed reports to the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect were "unfounded and false." Tong writes, "About 2/3 to 3/4 of all good-faith but unfounded, reports of alleged child abuse and neglect are the result of improper interview techniques, confirmatory bias, source misattributions, and delusional accusers."

My concerns, Dean Tong's work, (visit his website: abuse-excuse.com), are on target. Just do the math regarding Henry County DCFS statistics. Just talk to those falsely accused. Furthermore, try to swallow this final statistic from Georgia's Child Protective Services State Fiscal Year 2001 report: out of 54,543 reports made to DFCS agencies; 33,917 were closed as unsubstantiated. Outrage! What about justice for the falsely accused?

So, let's reform Henry County DCFS and not stop there. Those falsely accused, especially children in the middle of custody disputes, deserve justice. They deserve financial compensation as victims of false allegations. They need to see Henry County DCFS, and all DCFS agencies, begin posting "false allegations" in their State Fiscal Year reports. Starting this year. There is no excuse not to. Stop the madness now.

Tony M. Zizza
Zizza is a freelance writer living in the Atlanta area.

STATISTICS AND DATA FROM: http://www.dhr.state.ga.us

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