Not until I, a Hawai‘i public school student's volunteer home tutor, was falsely accused of child abuse did I become aware of how many other people in Hawai‘i are falsely accused of child abuse and neglect by Education Personnel every year. After some research I discovered there were over 500 unconfirmed reports by Education Personnel in 2019 alone!
The ordeal with Child Welfare Services (known as CPS in some other parts of the nation) was very stressful for the child's mother. How would you like it if Child Welfare Services showed up on your doorstep, you can hardly speak English, and they tell you that the school has accused someone of abusing your child. The child was pulled out of school for two hours to be interviewed. Two Department of Human Services employees had to waste a lot of time investigating ... uh, not sure what they were investigating. We don't know exactly what I was accused of doing because the Governor's COVID orders include partial suspension of the Uniform Information Practices Act, and we've been waiting almost 4 months to get a copy of the CWS child abuse intake report. We think it had something to do with me raising my voice to the child when he wasn't doing what I'd been telling him to do for about 20 minutes (reboot his computer so he could participate in the Distance Learning class), but we don't know for sure. After two CWS social workers interviewed me, my husband, the mother, and the student, the whole thing was deemed an unconfirmed report of abuse, and the Social Worker, off the record, attempted to recruit me to be a CWS volunteer surrogate parent. Didn't take her long to realize I benefit children, not abuse them. Later, the the mother tried to talk to the Principal about this. She has a recording of the Principal denying that she knows anything about the abuse report, which, BTW, means somebody wasn't following DOE procedure, or the Principal is not being honest. It's a nasty, unpleasant mess.
The only abuse going on here is DOE personnel falsely accusing hundreds of families every year of child abuse and neglect. Is it deliberate harassment (as I suspect is my situation), or just Education Personnel ignorance (also a factor in my CWS encounter)? Upon further investigation, I discovered that Hawai‘i DOE personnel receive NO TRAINING whatsoever how to identify child abuse and neglect. That's a BIG problem. See the next section.
The Hawai‘i Department of Human Services Child Welfare Services Branch investigates reports of Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN). The data above from the 2019 CAN Report shows the number of Confirmed and Unconfirmed cases reported by "Education Personnel" 2015 to 2019.
On 6-Oct-2020 I submitted a government record request to the Principal of the school that had accused me of child abuse. I asked for, "copies of all training materials, procedures, MOUs, directives, and other relevant material used to educate school employees about child abuse and mandatory reporting." On 24-Dec-2020 @ 4:13 PM, I finally received a response from the Deputy Superintendent's Office. All the training documents are available below. I also received a link to the Hawai‘i DOE Video Production Branch training video:
Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting (Revised 2019)
What is glaringly obvious is that there is NO training, not even a white paper or pamphlet educating Education Personnel how to spot the signs of abuse and neglect, what does and does not legally constitute abuse, and what evidence . The extremely high numbers of mistaken, unconfirmed reports is a strong indicator that this lack of training is costly to several government agencies and to the families that must defend themselves against their local schools' false, and in my case, ridiculous allegations of abuse.
... All employees or officers of the DOE who have reason to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or that there exists a substantial risk that child abuse or neglect may occur in the reasonably foreseeable future by a person related to the child, residing with the child, or is otherwise responsible for the child's care, shall immediately notify CWS and the county police as well as immediately notify the administrator of the DOE school, or the administrator's designee...
... it is in Hawai‘i society's best interests to deliver quality training to DOE employees concerning what actually does and does not constitute child abuse and neglect.
last update: 26-Dec-2020
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