AUSTIN— Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the paper, Reforming the Use of Child Abuse Pediatric Teams in Child Protective Cases.

Andrew Brown, director of the Center for Families and Children, offered the following statement:

“Medical professionals with relevant expertise have an important role to play in protecting children from abuse by conducting objective assessments of suspected victims. However, when medical professionals step outside of their proper role as objective interpreters of medical data and become investigators and advocates, the risk that families will be unjustly torn apart by false allegations dramatically increases. The current close alignment of child abuse pediatric teams with CPS investigators, law enforcement, and state prosecutors poses a significant threat to the due process rights of families. States should work to protect children and innocent families by reforming policies to ensure objectivity in medical assessments of suspected child abuse and mitigate the risks posed by the current practice of child abuse pediatrics.”

Key Points:

  • The alignment of child abuse pediatric teams with child protective services, law enforcement, and state prosecutors compromises the objectivity of medical examinations of suspected child abuse victims and has led to wrongful convictions of innocent caregivers.
  • New medical research along with a string of recent acquittals and conviction reversals raises questions about the reliability of the diagnoses provided by child abuse pediatric teams.
  • Texas distributes roughly $5.5 million each biennium to hospital child abuse pediatric teams who work with DFPS to provide medical consultation, case reviews, and testimony in child abuse cases.
  • While there is a proper role for medical professionals to play in child abuse investigations, safeguards should be put into place to ensure objective decision-making and eliminate conflicts of interest among child abuse pediatric teams.

To view the paper in full, please visit: https://www.texaspolicy.com/reforming-the-use-of-child-abuse-pediatric-teams-in-child-protective-cases

For more information, please contact Sarah Silberstein at ssilberstein@texaspolicy.com or 512-472-2700.