It is the responsibility of a society to protect its most vulnerable members, especially its children. Far too often, children are the voiceless victims of abuse and neglect.
In 2012, according to the Annie E. Casey foundation, there were 14,522 Michigan children in the foster care system.
In 79.2 percent of those cases, the perpetrators of the abuse-neglect were identified as the child's parent. If a parent is unable or unwilling to keep his or her own children safe, then it is the responsibility of society to intervene on behalf of its children.
In 1975, the State of Michigan passed the Child Protection Law (CPL). This law increased the protection of children in several ways: mandated the report of abuse/neglect by certain community members, created legal avenues for law enforcement to intervene (protective custody), and instituted protocol for the Department of Human Services (DHS) to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect.
Most notably, the CPL allowed a suspected victim of abuse/neglect to be interviewed without the permission or presence of a parent.
It is the job of Children's Protective Services (CPS) to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. The ability to investigate and gather information is paramount in protecting children from harm.
One of the most effective tools in determining if a child has been abused or neglected is the use of the forensic interview. It is during this interview that the trained investigator is able to ascertain the extent and validity of the allegations reported.
Currently, an active bill (HB 5411) in the House of Representatives is recommending changes to the CPL.
HB 5411 would require a parent's permission or a court order to interview an alleged child victim of abuse/neglect. HB 5411 would also allow the non-perpetrating parent to be present during the interview.
This bill would greatly increase a parent's ability to influence the child's interview, especially in cases when a court order is required. In addition, a child is less likely to be truthful if a parent is present during the interview because he or she is afraid of consequences at home.
Passing HB 5411 is done at the detriment to Michigan's children.
Representative McBroom is in support of this bill. Please contact him today and demand a no vote on HB 5411. The lives and safety of our children depend on it.
Michael S. Lenten