Thursday, June 30, 2011

On our Blog at Youth Today: How "risk assessment" puts kids at risk

Every year or so, the child welfare community finds a new way to prove the adage “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

It works this way. Researchers publish a study or some committee (Obligatory Blue Ribbon Commission) issues a report which determines that “X” is a risk factor for child abuse. In other words, if someone who is an “X” or has “X” or does “X” is in the home, that person is more likely to abuse a child.

Having been officially deemed a risk factor, “X” then makes it onto various “checklists” and “risk assessment” forms that child protective services workers take with them when they investigate an allegation of alleged child maltreatment.

If a parent has too many risk factors, the CPS worker may well walk out with the child – not because the child has been abused but because the “risk factors” supposedly tell us the child might be abused sometime in the future. It’s a bit like the science fiction movie Minority Report, in which people are arrested for crimes they haven’t yet committed based on predictions of three psychics in an oversize bathtub – only the psychics in the movie were more accurate.

Continued on NCCPR's monthly Blog at Youth Today