States have been focusing on reducing child abuse since the 1960s by creating agencies whose sole focus is to ensure that children are not placed into dangerous situations. In Texas, the Department of Family and Public Safety investigates these cases, and may remove children if situations prove unstable. This process can be a nightmare for parents who are faced with the prospect of losing their children.
A recent study has called into question the effectiveness of agencies like DFPS. Dr. Kristine A. Campbell was the lead author of the study that examined 595 children nationwide, watching them from age four to eight. The families all had similar risk factors, such as the family’s income, exposure to depression or aggressive behavior, as well as the amount of education provided by those that care for the child, that researches determined may lead to abusive situations.
Researches then selected looked more closely at the families of 164 of the children, to determine if any of the children had been abused, while the other families of the 431 children were not investigated. After a four-year wait, all of the families were studied again.
After analyzing the statistics, researchers could not find any differences in the rate of abuse between the two groups. The only major difference that they were able to find was that those families who were interviewed showed more tendencies toward maternal depression.
The researchers concluded that, based upon these results, groups like DFPS did not actually prevent abuse from occurring. The investigations that would be conducted in situations of alleged abuse would not reduce the potential of abuse. Additionally, child protective agencies are focused on eliminating immediate risks such as domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse, possibly missing the main factors that place children at risk.
For the investigations to be more successful at stopping violence against children, critics contend that officials need to focus on the big picture. The agencies need to be proactive in their assessment of risk factors. Families need to undergo a comprehensive examination to determine what is exactly happening that may have placed them into these situations.
If you have questions about a DFPS investigation, contact an experienced attorney to understand your options. If you do not take action as soon as possible, you may be at risk of losing your children.