A System in Need of Repair? Entirely too many abusive people escape detection by social services. In contrast, thousands of families experience the trauma of a false allegation of abuse each year ( Swarens, 2). The social services system in the USA is in serious need of repair, states Tim Swarens in his article, " A System in Need of Repair" written for the Indianapolis Star .
In his article, Swarens tells the all too familiar story of a family falsely accused of child abuse. When a social worker and a police officer showed up at Shirley Calabretta's door and demanded to check her daughter over for signs of abuse, she was horrified. Authorities had acted on an anonymous tip. After finding no trace of abuse, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld ruled in Calabretta's favour on two issues. The first being, that a warrant was necessary to enter the Calabretta home and second, the officer and social worker had violated the mother's authority and her dignity, by searching her daughter.
Swarens goes on to say that this case "illustrates problems with how we protect children in this country [United States] "( Swarens, 1). The first being that authorities acted on an anonymous tip. "The caller could have been a concerned citizen, or nothing but a vindictive neighbour " (Swarens, 1). The second problem the author found was that the social worker was extremely biased by the 'red flags' raised, upon learning that the family was very religious and that the child was home-schooled. Lastly, Calabretta admitted to "occasionally spanking her children". The worker told Calabretta that this was illegal in California. It isn't "(Swarens, 1). The worker was attempting to push her views on Calabretta.
Swarens concludes his article with some shocking statistics. While last year in Indiana 65 children died from abuse or neglect, there were 15, 714 investigated innocent families torn apart, just like the Calabrettas, by false accusations (Swarens, 2). The author believes that social workers have "insufficient training, heavy workloads and low pay making mistakes inevitable " (Swarens, 2). He states " Think of the system as a car with a cracked engine and a flat tire. Either we need a new car or both repairs must be made to get us where we have to go " (Swarens, 2).
While I agree with Swarens' opinion that the United States social services is in great need of repair, I believe that the author neglected to suggest a solution to the problem. Although 15, 714 cases were false accusations, there were still sixty-five deaths resulting from abuse and neglect. This is not acceptable. If social services have to investigate nine households, in order to find one case of abuse - so be it. It may be embarrassing, anxiety-producing and somewhat inconvenient for the eight families who are not guilty, but it could mean the salvation of one child's life. Unless Mr. Swarens can suggest a more efficient system, one which could detect the guilty persons with one hundred percent accuracy every time, without investigating every anonymous call, I believe that every tip, every call, every report must be investigated, vindictive neighbour or not. When a child's life may be in danger, I don't believe that you have the time nor the need to identify the person originating the report. Until a more efficient, accurate system is created, the United States, of necessity, must utilize the current system, in an attempt to keep children safe.