Welcome to SPARC Forums. Please login or sign up.

Jul 14, 2024, 10:16:40 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Why Won't CPS Record Interviews?

Often when Child Protective Services (CPS) interviews a child regarding abuse charges, they typically will not make any objective, verifiable record of the interview, such as an audio recording or video tape. All of the involved parties are forced to take the word of the caseworker as to what the child did or didn't say. Clearly, this opens the door to misunderstandings and even possible abuse by a caseworker who isn't able to maintain his or her objectivity.

Making a objective, verifiable record of an interview with the child should be standard operating procedure, and it should be the law. It would prevent miscarriages of justice, and would reign in "rogue" CPS workers who might be biased in favor of one party or the other. Sexual abuse charges are a serious matter- too serious to allow ANY possibility of malfeasance or bias to influence the outcome.

When questioned on this issue, some CPS offices have even claimed that recording a child's statements is illegal, because it is against the law to make a recording without all the parties giving informed consent, and legally a child is unable to give his or her informed consent.

This is a fallacious argument at best. Whether the child is aware of the recording or not is irrelevant to the investigation. If necessary, the child's parent or legal guardian could give consent, and the majority undoubtedly would. Who would deny the reasonableness of this?

Using my own case as an example, when the CPS caseworkers investigated the false charges of abuse leveled against me by my ex-wife, no recording was made. My attorney contacted the CPS office prior to the interview with my child, and demanded repeatedly that an audio or video recording be made of the interview. The CPS caseworker refused, stating that they "weren't required to do so", and used the above claim that it was "illegal" for them to record the interview in any way, shape or form. In fact, however, CPS workers may (and usually do) keep handrwritten notes for their own use. Apparently, the taking of hand-written notes isn't considered a form of recording. )

We had to ask ourselves; why wouldn't the caseworker want an objective and verifiable record of the interview? Was she afraid that her "investigative technique" would be brought into question? Or was she afraid that if she claimed to have found anything, that her "interperetation" of the child's statements could be refuted, casting doubts on her credibility?

We'll never know what was or wasn't said during the interview. Apparently the caseworker found nothing substantive and took no action, calling the accusations "unfounded". Nonetheless, we have to wonder why they resisted the seemingly common-sense idea of recording the interview.

Far too many men and women have been victims of false abuse charges. Numerous cases occur where the abuse charges are later found to be false, yet the caseworkers word was the only "evidence" required to determine custody or cause charges to be brought against an innocent person. Cases abound where the child denies any abuse took place, but the caseworker ignores or discounts the child's statements. Would this be as easy to do if a videotape of the interview existed, available for review by the judge and counsel for the accused?

Requiring interviews of children to be videotaped is a common-sense idea whose time has come. If you're involved in any kind of abuse allegations, have your attorney demand that any interview(s) of the child be taped. Threaten legal action if they aren't. If you're the parent or guardian of the child, offer to give your consent as a matter of record. Demand an explanation from the CPS caseworker and their office if they refuse. Write your Senators, Congressmen and local CPS office and insist that CPS workers record the interviews that they do.

Articles in « Commentary and Editorials »