Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, November 20, 2015

Study Finds More Child Abuse in Homes of Returning Vets

From USA Today:

The babies and toddlers of soldiers returning from deployment face the heightened risk of abuse in the six months after the parent’s return home, a risk that increases among soldiers who deploy more frequently, according to a study scheduled for release Friday.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Public Health. The abuse of soldiers’ children exposes another, hidden cost from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed than 5,300 U.S. troops and wounded more than 50,000.

Research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at families of more than 112,000 soldiers whose children were 2 years old or younger for the period of 2001 to 2007, the peak of the Iraq War. Researchers examined Pentagon-substantiated instances of abuse by a soldier or another caregiver and from the diagnoses of medical personnel within the military’s health care system.

“This study is the first to reveal an increased risk when soldiers with young children return home from deployment,” David Rubin, co-director of the hospital’s PolicyLab and the report’s senior author, said in a statement. “This really demonstrates that elevated stress when a soldier returns home can have real and potentially devastating consequences for some military families.”

Rubin said the study will help the Army and other services learn "when the signal [of stress] is the highest and the timing for intervention to help the returning soldiers."

The Army said it will use the information to help serve soldiers and their families better.

Read more here.

November 20, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oklahoma City Adoption Attorney Accused in Child Trafficking Case

From NewsOK:

A longtime Oklahoma City adoption attorney was accused Thursday in a child trafficking case of cheating adoptive parents out of thousands of dollars.  

Prosecutors allege the attorney, Robert Golden Boren, created a fake company to unlawfully charge adoptive parents more than the actual living expenses of the birth mothers. They also allege he overcharged the parents for so-called social services.

"In essence, Boren reported the expense he charged the adoptive couple but NOT what was actually paid," Oklahoma City police Detective Priscilla Helm wrote in a court affidavit. "This allowed a profit for Boren that was hidden from the adoptive couples, the birth mothers and the Courts.” 

The detective reported Boren received more than $110,000 in illegal profit between 2009 and 2013 on cases she examined. 

Read more here.

October 28, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Child Abuse in Iowa

A private group called Prevent Child Abuse Iowa has launched a website with extensive information on preventing child abuse and how Iowans can report possible cases of child abuse.  The site aims to provide advice on situations ranging from what to do when a sex offender lives in your neighborhood to how to start a conversation with a person putting another person in an uncomfortable situation.  The site also "provides links to groups with counselors willing to talk to the public."  The website is

Read more here.


March 1, 2013 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Controversial Child Abuse Registries


Iowa's 51,960-name child abuse registry could get an overhaul in the wake of complaints that the list damages reputations and job prospects for the accused before they've had a fair hearing.

Appeals took an average of 273 days in 2008, the most recent year available. About one-fourth of the appeals that reached a hearing were reversed.

It takes no conviction in court to end up on the registry - only a finding by Iowa Department of Human Services staff that it was "more likely than not" that the person neglected a child or, in a much smaller number of cases, abused a child.

Read more here.



February 24, 2011 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mind Your Own Business?

That is the question posed by

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.America's latest folk-hero flight attendant may be the one on a Southwest Airlines jet who took a 13-month-old baby from her mother after the woman slapped the crying child for kicking her. 

The flight attendant's actions, however, set off an intense debate: When and how should bystanders intervene?

Read more here.


August 24, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Smoking in Car Child Abuse?

The Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in England has called smoking in a car with children child abuse.  He urged parents, mothers-to-be, the obese, smokers, and drinkers to turn into healthy role models for their children.  Read about it here.


August 17, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Utah Supreme Court Overturns Jeffs Conviction

From CNN:

The Utah Supreme Court has reversed Warren Steed Jeffs' two convictions on charges of rape as an accomplice and ordered a new trial, saying that instructions given to jurors were erroneous.

Jeffs, the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life after he was convicted in September 2007. He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin.

In Jeffs' trial, Elissa Wall testified that she repeatedly told him at the time that she did not want to be married and was uncomfortable with sexual advances from her husband, Allen Steed. She said Jeffs advised her to pray and submit to her husband, learn to love him and bear his children, or risk losing her "eternal salvation."

Prosecutors relied on three separate portions of the law defining the circumstances under which sex is non-consensual, the opinion said. Under those portions, the victim must express a lack of consent through words or conduct, the victim must be younger than 18 years, and "the actor" must be in a position of special trust in relation to the victim.

"Jeffs argues that the instruction erroneously focused the jury on Jeffs' actions and position of special trust, rather than on Steed's, for the purpose of determining whether Wall consented," the opinion said.

The justices agreed, saying the jurors should have been asked to consider whether Steed was in a position of special trust and whether Steed lured or induced Wall into having sex.

"The state interprets the term 'actor' to mean the 'defendant,' " the opinion said. "We conclude that the state's interpretation is erroneous."

"We're thrilled," said Jeffs' defense attorney, Wally Bugden. "We're overjoyed. We're ecstatic that the Supreme Court agreed with us. ... The state just had the wrong legal theory."

Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix told CNN affiliate KSTU that the opinion is "going to make it difficult, I think, for us to do future prosecutions in cases where some of these men in positions of power -- almost complete power, like Warren Jeffs is -- to prosecute them for forcing young girls into these marriages. I think that's really the part of this opinion that is most disappointing for us."

The justices sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial.

Read more news coverage here or the Utah Supreme Court opinion here.


August 12, 2010 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anticipatory Neglect in IL

An Illinois appellate court recently upheld the application of “anticipatory neglect” in regard to the Respondent mother.  Accordingly, because Respondent’s previous 7 children were determined to be neglected between 1997 and 2006, with her parental rights being terminated in regards to 6 of them, the trial court’s findings of neglect and unfitness in regard to a current infant were not against the manifest weight of the evidence.  The case is In re J.C., Jr., No. 3-08-0934 (Ill. App. Ct., 3d Dist. Dec. 29, 2009).  Read the opinion here.


March 2, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Arrested for Not Registering Home-Schooled Kids


FONDA -- A Montgomery County couple has been arrested on child endangerment charges for failing to register their children with the school district as they were home-schooled, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

The Cressys were issued appearance tickets to appear in the Town of Glen Court at a later date. The case has been turned over to the Montgomery County District Attorney and the Child Protective Unit.

Hoffman said the Cressys have since submitted a home-schooling curriculum, which he has approved. 

An arrest seems a little harsh, especially on child endangerment charges.  Some might suggest that the most problematic and unsafe school districts in the country should face child endangerment charges themselves.

For more on the Montgomery County case, read here.


January 26, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tattooing Children

We’ve previously touched on the difficulty of drawing a line between permitting parents to make certain medical decisions and having the state do so.  What about tattooing children with primitive instruments?  Is there something wrong with that?  How is different from piercing a baby’s ears, other than the permanency of having a “mom and dad” tattoo on your arm?


CHATTOOGA COUNTY, Ga. - A Georgia couple is out of jail on bond after being arrested for tattooing six of their children.

Investigators say they put their children in danger, but they say they did nothing wrong.

Investigators said a plastic pen body with a needle made of a guitar string connected to an electric motor was used to tattoo the six children.

Read more here.


January 21, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders Today

Today, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Comstock (08-1224), which deals with a federal law that indefinitely commits those who finished serving their sentences in North Carolina, typically for sexual offenses against minors.  During oral argument, General Kagan pointed that out of 103 people certified under these laws, 83 had committed sexual offenses.  She stated:

What is necessary [under this law] is two things: First, that the person in fact have engaged in sexually violent behavior or child molestation. So there is a factual predicate there. And -- and so far, the Bureau of Prisons has found that about 15,000 people whom it has reviewed meet that factual predicate. Of those, the Bureau of Prisons has certified only 105 of those, who were also found to have the kind of mental illness that made it reasonably likely that -- that they would continue to commit this -- these kinds of offenses. (Tr. 24-25).

The Supreme Court has previously upheld a similar Kansas law in Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997).

The Supreme Court oral argument transcript in United States v. Comstock (08-1224) is available here, and commentary on the law from a victim's perspective is here.



January 12, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Child Slavery in Haiti

An astounding new report suggests that because of poverty, at least 225,000 children in Haiti, two-third girls, have been sent into slavery as unpaid household servants, known as “restavek.”  Some of these children—especially girls—also suffer sexual, psychological, and physical abuse.  Counter-logically, 11% of families with a restavek have sent their own children into domestic servitude elsewhere.  Read more here.


January 9, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 18, 2009

ABC's 20/20 to feature a segment on "Parental Alienation Syndrome" Friday night

Parental Alienation Syndrome to be highlighted on ABC’s 20/20

Posted by admin in Brainwashing

20/20 show on parental alienation syndromeABC News’ show 20/20 will be featuring a segment this Friday, with a brief appearance by Dr. Richard Warshak, the foremost author and psychologist on parental alienation syndrome, aka “children brainwashed to hate a parent.”

From Dr. Warshak’s site,

I expect this show to have a major impact in educating the public about the suffering of children who have been turned against a parent, and about what can be done to help ease a child’s transition back to a rejected parent.

The segment will be anchored by 20/20 reporter Chris Cuomo. This topic, mental child abuse, is vastly misunderstood by parents, therapists, judges, and lawyers alike, so I’m excited that it will be in front of a national audience. Dr. Warshak is the foremost authority on parent-child alienation, so ABC did great in choosing to interview him.

The segment should air in the first hour of the 2 hour show (9-11pm EST). expe



December 18, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Child Protective Services to Investigate Balloon Boy's Home



The media coverage of the Heene Family (of Wife Swap fame) continues endlessly, even more so now that the adrift balloon once suspected of carrying six-year-old Falcon Heene has been declared a hoax.  Among the many questions being asked is whether Child Protective Services should investigate the Heene home.  This, in turn, raises the ageless question of when the threshold for such intervention has been established, implicating the tension between intervening too frequently and failing to intervene when intervention is needed.  Of course, the answer must carefully consider the very strong autonomy and privacy rights of the parents, the interests of the children (which often may be to remain free of intervention), and the very limited number of alternatives—particularly for a set of three siblings.               


October 20, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spiritual, Not Medical, Treatment of Kids' Illnesses

Wisconsin parents failing to seek medical attention for their 11-year-old daughter, who subsequently died from untreated diabetes, were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and recently sentenced to 30 days in jail each year for the next 6 years, as well as 10 years’ probation.  Prosecutors said that the parents prayed instead of seeking medical treatment, even when their daughter stopped being able to walk or talk.  The question of whether states should allow parents to practice only spiritual treatment is not a new one, but the debate has been renewed by this case, with many lawmakers pledging to take a fresh look at laws in this area.



Hat Tip: Elizabeth Ryznar

October 15, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 11, 2009

CFP: Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop Call for Papers

Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop

July 16 -17, 2009

The Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington & Lee University is sponsoring a workshop for junior scholars working on legal issues related to children. The workshop will be held this summer on the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington, Virginia.
More info on Feminist Law Professors blog here.


May 11, 2009 in Abortion, Child Abuse, Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fewer Children In Foster Care In NC County Promotes Child Welfare and Saves Money

Guilford County (North Carolina) has employed a multi-prong approach to family preservation, and has reduced the number of children in foster care by 31%.  In this Greensboro (NC) News-Record article, county officials and national experts agree that the children who have remained with their families have avoided the unnecessary trauma of being separated from their families, and note the cost-savings of prevention programs as compared to out-of-home care.

(MIF 04-17-2009)

April 17, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Case Update -- Termination of Parental Rights Vacated Because Counsel Appointed for Parent Only Two Weeks Before Trial

The Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision in In Re Hudson/Morgan Minors on April 8, 2009.

(MIF 4-10-2009)

April 10, 2009 in Attorneys, Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Science and the Drug Exposed Infant

As part of a program at New York University School of Law recently on Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and Law Have to Say, Dr. Deborah A. Frank, Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine presented a lecture on Prenatal Drug Exposure: What Does the Science Tell Us?   She explores the social meaning of certain drugs and exposes some of the myths laden in the term "crack-addicted babies".  The entire lecture is about 15 minutes and would be especially useful in child welfare classes and clinics.  The video can be viewed at (last visited April 6, 2009 bgf)

April 6, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stimulus Funds Available To Prevent Foster Care Placements Due To Inadequate Housing

The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) has published an issue brief identifying more than $2 billion in stimulus funding available for emergency housing to prevent placement of children in foster care.  Trade journal Youth Today summarizes the issue brief here.

(MIF 04-05-2009)

April 5, 2009 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)