A TEN-day-old baby was put in care and his young mother arrested when a bump on his head was misdiagnosed as child abuse, it was reported today.
Dee Crawford, 19, was told to take her newborn Michael back to hospital after she noticed a swelling, which she believed might have happened when he fell against scales at her home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.
A doctor at the University Hospital of North Durham examined the baby and reported the injury as new, leading to the police and social services being informed.
Ms Crawford was arrested on suspicion of assault and questioned by police before being released on bail.
Meanwhile, Michael was taken away and placed in care, as his mother collapsed in tears.
He had been born by caesarean section just ten days previously on January 19, weighing 9lb 8oz.
Police allowed Ms Crawford to read the doctor’s report and, when she was allowed home, she used the internet to research what was claimed against her.
She challenged the doctor’s assertion that Michael’s swelling could not be a cephalohematoma regularly caused during labour – as, according to him, they never occur with caesarean section births.
The authorities sought further expert advice, and a paediatric specialist from the Royal Victoria Infirmary ruled the swelling was undoubtedly the result of the difficult labour.
Michael was returned to his mother after spending two-and-a-half weeks apart.
Ms Crawford said: “What happened to me I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“I have lost time with my baby when I should have been bonding with him, and Ill never get that back.”
She admitted the authorities had put Michael on the Child Protection Register before he was born, saying that was due to her depression.
A Durham Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that a 19-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of assault on February 4, but no further action has since been taken against her.”
A Durham County Council spokeswoman said: “For reasons of confidentiality, it is not appropriate for us to comment on individual cases.
“However, we would never consider removing a child from a family in the context of a suspected injury without first taking expert medical advice.
This story was taken from a news source on the 19th February 2009. Though the zeal and need to protect children is well placed the margin of error needs to be addressed. Taking a child who is not being abused from its biological parents is also damaging to the child and greater efforts must be taken to avoid common errors in misdiagnosing and over diagnosing child abuse.
Breaking down children through trauma.
Are women and children not human beings in Ireland in 2010.?
Most people worldwide look at Ireland and think it is a modern progressive country, yet hidden from public view are the family courts where abuses of human rights are taking place on a regular basis.
Here in Ireland battered and abused mothers and children are treated as they were in the dark ages of the 16th century. Solicitors are being told by learned men and women of the bench not to bring cases of domestic abuse and child abuse before them as they are sick to death of it. Judges have been trained over the years to believe that all women fabricate domestic abuse and child abuse. The only abuse the judges etc admit that exists is physical abuse, yet professionals fully educated in domestic abuse have full knowledge of the 8 forms of domestic terrorism and that the mental, psychological, financial abuse and control are equal forms of abuse, but because they leave no visible scars, the judges and court assessors fail in their role to protect these women and their children.
Recently in USA, research has shown that everything these battered and abused women and their children have been saying is true. The very system designed to protect them, abuses them over and over and even removes the children from the protective parent and places them with violent one and sometimes excludes the protector totally from the lives of the children.
In Ireland, in order that the child has contact with both parents, children are being broken down by various state agents in the knowledge that once the child is broken he/she will then bond with the abuser. Locking children in rooms with known abusers is abuse and a crime. Yet it is done in the name of the law. This trauma bonding is of course a crime in any other circumstance, except in family law. Even worse, the HSE will use Electric Shock Therapy on children if they cannot break them using other methods. As an added punishment these children then have their inheritance taken from them in more secret court proceedings. Their abuser often ordered not to pay a penny maintenance for them. The children end up totally confused by the judge rewarding the abuser and punishing them and the victim.
What must the children of Ireland think of the child protectors and the legal system? They know the law is in place to protect them, but that is not what actually happens in secret courts. The secrecy, the punishing of the innocent, the twisting of words, the lack of proof etc. The perpetrators of domestic abuse and child abuse are rarely if ever prosecuted or punished.Why? Abusers know the law is on their side and remind their victims of this fact and even taunt them with words like “you can never escape me”. The protective parent on the other hand is punished for daring to protect the children and for trying to break free from violence.
The institution of marriage in Ireland was designed to keep women and children in their place, that is under the control of the male patriarch. Who would believe such crimes against innocent children could be happening in secret in Ireland.? Yet I am reliably informed that children in Ireland in 2010 have their human rights breached regularly in family court proceedings.
What kind of a country is Ireland that we allowed the men of God to abuse and torture our precious children for hundreds of years,while being conditioned that suffering was good for their souls, and now in 2010 we have men and women of the law telling the children that fragmenting their souls through court ordered abuse and trauma bonding is good for them because the adult abuser must have contact with them in the eyes of the law.?
Trauma bonding often leads to Disassociative Identity Disorder and other mental problems, so why is it ordered legally in secret family courts? How many children have committed suicide due to being legally tortured by those paid to protect the children.? Is not Ireland now a signatory to the European Human Rights Laws? Are women and children not human beings in Ireland in 2010. Is the 16th century mentality of women and children being mere possessions still in existence.? Judging by the actions of family court judges and state agents this appears to be the case. All human beings have the human right to live in peace and safe from harm, but in Ireland that is not so when it pertains to women and children.
Abused women are often forced to remain under the same roof as their abusers for years, because of the law, where the couple must live apart for 4 out of the 5 years before applying for divorce. Many women in Ireland have not worked outside of the home since marriage or since having children, due to the extremely high cost of childcare. For these women they are financially dependent on their husbands and so are unable to move out independently until after the divorce. This means the children are also forced to live under the same roof and cope with all the daily stresses and hostile atmosphere, which of course deprives the children of their right to a peaceful and loving existence in a safe and secure home. Some of the abused women end up in mental hospitals unable to cope with the torment any longer.
Yet in divorce proceedings these abused women are deemed “mad” and loose custody of their children to the abuser. The perpetrator sneering and telling the judge “I told you she was mad”. This picture is an exact copy of 16th century Inquisition days where women were deemed mad and witches while being persecuted by their inquisitors. A woman who grows organic crops can be labelled a witch in Ireland and loose all assets and property to her abuser. No proof is required. No broomstick required, just old fashioned thinking of state agents whose minds are stuck in the dark ages. None of this is ever reported in the media due to the in camera rule.
Another aspect of the Irish Family Law proceedings which needs to be brought to light is, that reports prepared for the court by agencies like HSE, Probation Services, Psychologists, Psychiatrists etc are not always given to the clients or their solicitors to read thus breaching Act 6 of Human Rights, right to a fair trial. The clients have absolutely no idea what is written about them in these reports and get no opportunity to rebut any allegation therein.
In open court under common law, would any of the above be allowed to happen? If the media were invited into these courts, would the children be legally ordered into serious abuse where their souls are fragmented into a million pieces through trauma bonding and deliberate breaking down of their minds? Children are made into objects in the minds of professionals thus rendering them non human and so can easily be treated in an inhuman way without affecting the consciences of the adult court agents.
The world has every right to see Irish people for what we truly are as a nation. Until 1996, Ireland still had homes for unmarried mothers where they were kept away from “normal” people, simply because the church deemed them fallen women. Often their children were sold to rich couples from USA and their identifies changed. Our history shows little respect for our children and their mothers. We still do not have equal respect for women and children but allow our children to be legally abused in 2010 by perpetrators of abuse aided and abetted by various state agents and all rubber stamped by our learned judges who are fully aware of the consequences to the innocent children and the abused mothers.
- Mary Ruck and
- Barrister, Byrom Street Chambers, Manchester
- Head of Clinical Negligence, Pannone LLP, Manchester http://www.pannone.com/
- Barrister, Byrom Street Chambers, Manchester
- Head of Clinical Negligence, Pannone LLP, Manchester http://www.pannone.com/
In September 2008, the European Court of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECtHR) upheld a breach of Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), in that the UK failed to provide RK and AK with an effective legal remedy for the removal of their child from their care as a result of medical misdiagnosis. The case throws into focus the approach the domestic UK courts have on the rights of third parties, in particular, the rights of parents where their children are subjected to negligent medical treatment. The judgment followed the consideration of the ECtHR of parental rights in the cases of TP and KM1 in 2001, in which the Court had similarly found that parents should have available to them a means of claiming that the local authority’s handling of the procedures was responsible for damage which they suffered and obtaining compensation for that damage. This case is significant in two respects: the Court of Appeal afforded children the right to complain about decisions taking them into care, thus, in essence, overturning the House of Lords decision in X v Bedfordshire.2 Secondly, in the ECtHR, the parents were afforded redress, in confirming that the refusal to allow parents to argue their case in the domestic courts where Article 8 is engaged is a breach of their human rights in contravention of Article 13 of the Convention.
M, the daughter of RK and AK, was born in July 1998. At the age of 2 months she sustained a displaced fracture of the femur when picked up by her grandmother. M’s parents and grandmother took M to hospital. The triage nurse made a note in the medical records that M’s mother, rather than grandmother, had ‘yanked’ her up. The medical notes recorded that there was …
For Full Text Of Article In The Medical Law Review See Source:
For those falsely accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Mark Freeman is an attorney that got involved in defending those accused of shaking a child when a close friend was charged with child abuse for allegedly shaking his son.
My name is Mark Freeman and this is my blog for Pennsylvania parents (or caretakers) who are accused of abusing their children by the county agency. The county agency often takes child(ren) away from parents and files a dependency petition to have the child(ren) declared dependent on the state. The county agency also files an indicated report of abuse with the childline registry. The county agency also refers the case to the police and assault and child endangerment charges are filed, or if the child has died, murder or manslaughter charges. While there are certainly many cases of child abuse, I have found that in some cases, the county agency has taken children away from innocent parents and that the child abuse doctors and emergency room doctors are very quick to “suspect” child abuse and very slow to do what is necessary to perform a differential diagnosis and find the actual cause of the injuries, if they make any effort whatsoever. It is not uncommon for a parent to take their child to the hospital for vomiting or seizures and the next thing they know, their baby has been taken from them and a parent is arrested. Often times the injuries found are a subdural hematoma (also called a subdural hemorrhage) and some sort of fractures. The medical people almost always assume that these injuries are caused by child abuse even when there are no external signs of trauma like bruises or skin abrasions. They ask the parents if there was an accident that caused the injuries and when the parents have no accidental “explanation” the parents are presumed guilty of abuse. This is essentially how many shaken baby syndrome diagnoses are made. Sometimes it is referred to as shaken impact syndrome or some other variation like “non-accidental trauma” or the latest term “abusive head trauma” but it is almost always essentially the same. From that moment on, the parents cannot stop the momentum of the legal system which is taking away their child(ren) and arresting them. In my experience there are some cases where the doctors have made an incorrect diagnosis of abuse. This means two things; the first is that you do not know what is wrong with your child and the other is that innocent parents are losing custody of their children and are being accused of abuse or worse. This blog is dedicated to helping those innocent parents keep or get their children back and to vindicate their innocence of any false charges of abuse
A friend or family member has a child that is a few months old, maybe even a year or two old, and the baby was having some problems. Maybe it was some vomiting or seizures and the concerned parents take the baby to the hospital. The doctors start asking questions about what happened to the baby and the parents know of nothing that would have caused the vomiting or seizures. The doctors tell the parents that the baby has bleeding on the brain, a subdural hematoma, and that only a fall from a high height or a car accident above 35 MPH can explain the injury as accidental. Doctors start saying that they will have to report this to the local child protective services agency and a social worker approaches the parents and interviews them separately. Although they don’t explain how, they say the parents’ statements are inconsistent. Soon the police are involved and ask to speak with the parents and they even want to search the house. The child protective services agency tells the parents that if the baby survives, the baby will have to be placed in foster care or with relatives. The parents, in addition to having to deal with their child being in intensive care, now understand that one or both of them are being accused of abusing their young child.
The doctors and the hospital staff treat the parents differently, as if they are criminals. They act as if the parents don’t even have a right to be in the hospital with their baby. The parents continue to ask if there can be another explanation for the injuries and they are told by a child abuse “expert” that there is no other explanation. The doctor writes a report that says the “injuries are not consistent with the history provided by the parents.” The doctor says the only explanation is that the baby was “shaken” or squeezed and that until the parents admit to abuse the baby cannot go home with them. When the baby is discharged from the hospital there is a hearing where a social worker testifies that the hospital’s diagnosis of the injury is that there is no other explanation for the baby’s injuries other than shaking or shaking and impact and since the parents have no accidental explanation, one or both of the parents is guilty of abuse or knowing about abuse and failing to protect their child.
And just like that, a baby is taken away from his or her parents without any real evidence, or trial. There is no presumption of innocence and the parents are told they must “explain” the baby’s injuries. The parents thought it was the doctor’s job to figure out what was wrong with their child but the doctor is pointing the finger at them. The parents know that they did nothing to their child to injure it yet the doctors say they did as if it is a fact.
This story repeats itself many times each year with many variations. Tragically, sometimes babies do not survive and the police charge a parent with murder rather than assault. Sometimes it is a daycare provider that sees the symptoms in the child and alerts the parents or takes the baby to the hospital and that daycare provider is accused. Sometimes a boyfriend of the baby’s mother is accused.
If the county agency has taken a baby away with an ex parte court order and/or an informal hearing and they allege the parents cannot take care of the baby, the county agency is supposed to file a dependency petition within 48 hours. A hearing on the dependency petition is supposed to be scheduled within 10 days of the filing of the dependency petition. With certain exceptions, a hearing is supposed to be held at least every 10 days until the dependency petition is determined. Parents are supposed to receive notice of the informal hearing and any other hearings. Although rarely enforced, there is a provision that requires release of the child back to the parent if, through no fault of the child or parent, the hearing is not held within 10 days. Many court appointed and private attorneys either do not know of this provision or are unwilling to pursue release of the child because it necessitates an appeal to Superior court. The informal hearing as well as the dependency hearing itself can be heard by a Master or by a judge. The informal hearing is sometimes referred to as the shelter hearing or detention hearing.
Childline is a list of people suspected of abusing children and the federal government mandates that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintain this list. The county agency will send a report to Childline of suspected abuse and then has 60 days to complete their investigation and report to Childline whether the report is “indicated” or “unfounded.” Anyone who has been “indicated” for child abuse may request an expunction of that “indicated” status and the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) is required to give that person a hearing on the matter. If there is a finding by the court in the dependency trial or criminal trial that any person did actually commit abuse, then the “indicated” report is changed to a “founded” report with DPW. No one has a right to ask for a “founded” report to be expunged.
For innocent parents who have had their child taken away by the county agency, the ultimate insult is that they are dragged into court to pay child support to the county agency. This is because once a child is declared dependent, the county agency is granted custody and they, in theory, provide care to the child. This is true even if the child is being cared for by family members or friends. In reality, the county agency approves the family or friend for foster care and in most cases the family or friend is paid as a foster family.
When there is a report to the county agency of suspected abuse, the county agency is required to refer suspected cases of abuse to the appropriate law enforcement authority. In many cases when the child lives criminal charges of assault, aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child are filed against the father of the child or the boyfriend of the mother. Normally a defendant will face a mandatory five year minimum sentence for these charges. When the baby dies the charge is murder or manslaughter and these sentences can be much longer like 20 to 40 years for third degree murder. Many attorney’s have no idea how to defend allegations of shaking and make the mistake of trying to challenge when the “shaking” allegedly took place in an attempt to raise reasonable doubt that it was the defendant who committed the “shaking”. This approach rarely, if ever, works. Judges and juries are outraged when a little child is abused and they will generally hold the defendant accountable. What most defense attorneys are not able to do is challenge the diagnosis that the injuries could only have been caused by shaking. There is significant scientific controversy surrounding the medical idea that a baby can be shaken hard enough by a human to cause a subdural hematoma at all or at least without first injuring the baby’s neck. In addition, an attorney needs to look at the underlying medical information and not simply look at the reports of the child abuse “expert” or even the reports of the radiologists. It has been found in many cases that alleged fractures and other injuries do not actually exist even though initial reports say the injuries are suspected or say they are actually there based on initial studies. The allegation that a baby has been shaken is a defensible charge if the defense attorney knows about shaken baby syndrome and its controversies.
In many shaken baby cases there are absolutely no external signs of trauma to the child, the father (or boyfriend) is practically always the immediate suspect, and many parents maintain their innocence (in many cases because they actually are innocent) in the face of extreme pressure and coercion from the doctors, police and Children and Youth Services to “confess” to acts they didn’t do or didn’t see. Once protective custody is granted to Children and Youth Services, they almost always take the position that if a parent, especially a mother, maintains that they are not aware that the father (or boyfriend) committed any acts of abuse, that the mother is failing to “acknowledge” the circumstances that led to Children and Youth Services obtaining custody of her child and this failure to “acknowledge” the circumstances places the child at risk if returned to the mother’s custody. Children and Youth Services makes it clear that if the mother continues to maintain her innocence (and his innocence) then Children and Youth Services will keep the child or children away from their mother. This amounts to extortion against the mother that if she does not testify against the father (or boyfriend) she will be denied custody of her own children. Children and Youth Services makes it clear that in order to regain custody of her children, the mother has to “acknowledge” that the father or boyfriend committed acts of abuse.
Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is the hypothesis proposed by medical doctors that an infant can be shaken hard enough to cause a bleed on the brain (a subdural hematoma or hemorrhage) without any external trauma or impact. The problem with this hypothesis is that bioengineers could not confirm the hypothesis in the laboratory. (When I was in college getting my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering I was taught that the scientific method required the abandonment of a hypothesis that could not be confirmed experimentally.) The fact that the shaken baby syndrome hypothesis could not be confirmed in the laboratory didn’t stop medical doctors from promoting the hypothesis as if it were fact. When it became apparent that science didn’t support the SBS hypothesis, the medical doctors promoting it changed the terminology to shaken impact syndrome. Despite the change in terminology, the medical profession has never abandoned the notion that even when there is absolutely impact or trauma, a brain bleed can be caused by shaking alone. Because a growing minority of doctors has been challenging and dissenting from the shaken baby syndrome hypothesis, in 2009 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended yet another change in terminology. Whatever it is called, the hypothesis is flawed and creates a danger to innocent parents. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken the position that the mere presence of a subdural hematoma alone, without any other evidence of abuse, gives rise to a presumption that the cause of the subdural hematoma is non-accidental or inflicted trauma unless the parents can provide an accidental explanation or “history”. This presumption based on a flawed hypothesis has almost universally been adopted by the child protective services community and law enforcement and has been the cause of many innocent parents, caregivers and boyfriends being arrested and/or having their children taken away.
A friend or family member takes their baby to the hospital and the next thing you know they have been arrested. If the baby died then the police file homicide charges. If the baby lives then assault charges are filed and the baby is taken away from his parents. It seems like there is nothing that can be done to derail this medical-legal freight train. The criminal attorney has no idea about how to defend the bleeding in the baby’s head or the fractures that have been found on the x-rays and he is talking plea bargain. The child protective services take the position that unless or until the other parent “acknowledges” the circumstances, they won’t get their child back. What can you do?
If you are trying to help a friend or family member in that situation you must understand that there are certain presumptions at work in the medical and legal community. Most of the medical community and all of the law enforcement and child protective community has bought into the shaken baby syndrome hypothesis that in the absence of any external signs of trauma, the very presence of a subdural hematoma (or hemorrhage) gives rise to a presumption that the cause of the subdural bleeding is abuse. Then (according to the hypothesis) the burden shifts to the parents to provide an “explanation” for the injury. If the parents (or caregivers) can provide no “explanation” then in their minds (and oftentimes in the mind of the court) the case for abuse has been proven. Any fractures discovered in the ribs or extremities only confirm the diagnosis of abuse. This entire scenario repeats itself multiple times each day in the United States. (It also flagrantly violates the Constitution’s due process of law requirements in many ways but that is another discussion!)
The bottom line is that as long as the medical community, led by the child abuse “expert”, are the ones interpreting the medical records, it is a virtual certainty that the medical diagnosis and legal conclusion will be that the child was abused by his parent or caretaker. It is the medical records and the interpretation of those records that will convict the parent or caretaker. In order to defend your loved one you must get the medical records, and get all of the medical records, and then get a second opinion. Keep in mind that there is a lot of political pressure in the medical community to tow the shaken baby syndrome line and doctors are oftentimes reluctant to disagree with the child abuse “expert,” at least publically. Don’t be surprised if you find that most doctors simply rubber stamp the opinion of the child abuse “expert” without really considering all of the potential alternative explanations for subdural hematoma’s or fractures. So, where do you even start?
Start with the records and be persistent. Get the prenatal records – all of them. Find out how many prenatal visits were attended by mom and whether she took prenatal vitamins and had prenatal blood work performed. Get the birth records – all of them. Get the nurses notes and the actual charts with the handwritten notations. Find out when contractions started, when the water broke, were there any complications, medications administered or notes about the baby’s condition after birth. Was there any blood work done? Get the pediatrician’s records – all of them. Get the chart that shows the notes of any sick visits, the newborn visit, the one-month visit, two-month visit, etc. Was any blood work done? When and which vaccinations were administered. Were there any sick visits, emergency room visits or hospital admissions? Get the records! (If you are noticing a pattern, you should.) Get the records of any hospital admission – get all of them. Get the handwritten chart notes, any reports from the emergency room admission, reports of any treating or consulting physicians, get the social worker reports, get a list of every order written by a doctor, get all of the lab results, get the radiology reports and, this is absolutely critical, get the actual radiological studies (this means the actual film for x-rays or, as is more common now, the CDs containing the digital data of the x-rays, CTs and MRIs).
Be persistent and don’t accept anything less. Somewhere in all of these records is the answer to the question of what happened to this child. You will have no defense unless and until you find out what happened to this child (Forget the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty, when it comes to allegations of child abuse it is guilty until proven innocent.) Then you need a thoughtful attorney who is experienced in these types of cases and can assemble a medical team that can review these records and get to the bottom of what happened to this child or all of your efforts will be in vain.