Welcome to the web site for Protecting Innocent Families, Inc. (PIF), an educational 501(c)(3) corporation that works to protect the civil liberties of families falsely accused of child abuse based on medical misdiagnoses.
PIF is committed to stopping the medical misdiagnosis of child abuse through education and research.
PIF unites the families and communities affected by abuse accusations based on unproven medical theories, with the long-term goals of improving both the accuracy of abuse diagnoses and the handling of these cases by social services and the courts.
Over the past 50 years, the problem of child abuse has been receiving long-overdue attention. The over-diagnosis of abuse, however, can also have serious consequences to children and families.
Parents of children with rare or poorly understood conditions—or even well-known conditions that predispose to findings also common in abused children—are especially vulnerable to abuse accusations. Unfounded accusations tear apart innocent families and deny or delay the care their children need.
The guidelines now being used to diagnose abusive head trauma are especially troubling. When child abuse doctors see certain findings or clusters of findings, even in the absence of bruising, grip marks or other signs of assault, they reject caretaker and other witness accounts in favor of medical hypotheses that are now failing the test of time. (See, for example, this exposé of shaken baby syndrome in The Washington Post.) Even though doctors in other specialties recognize a long and growing list of underlying medical conditions that can cause subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages, child abuse experts continue to place undue importance on intra-cranial findings. Similarly, the child-abuse community maintains that children are immune to serious injury from short household falls, even while biomechanical researchers report that padded flooring next to changing tables would save lives.
There is also a growing problem with the diagnosis of “medical child abuse,” in which doctors accuse parents of seeking unnecessary medical care for their children. (Please see this op ed in The New York Times.) As with shaken baby syndrome, this diagnosis can result when doctors fail to see the underlying source of a child’s symptoms and findings.
Incredibly enough, doctors sometimes diagnose abuse on the basis of fractures without testing the child’s vitamin D levels, and some child abuse experts testify that a fetus will develop normal bones even if the mother is deficient in key minerals.
In addition to our ongoing educational campaigns, we are currently collecting signatures on a petition asking for an impartial scientific investigation into the evidence base for shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma and other medical diagnoses of abuse, possibly by the National Academy of Sciences, which in 2009 produced an influential report (http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12589&page=1) about forensic science in the courtroom.
To read and sign the petition, please go to http://bit.ly/InnocentFamilyPetition.
Our long-term goal is to effect changes in medical and legal practices that will protect children while avoiding the disastrous consequences of false allegations.
For some of the stories behind this group, please see the Cases page on this site.
For more information about the medical questions, please see the Medical Issues page.
For advice if you’ve been wrongful accused of child abuse, see the Resources page.
For a sampling of press treatments and developments in the arena, please see In the Media.
For updates on the status of the organization and our activities, please see the Updates page.
PIF tries to stay in touch with other organizations and individuals who share our goals, including:
- Torn Family
- The Amanda Truth Project
- Pediatric Accountability in Central Illinois
- Shaken Baby: A Diagnosis on Trial
- Shaken Baby Syndrome Resources
- Riksförbundiet för Familjers Rättigheter (translated from the Swedish as National Association for Families’ Rights)
- Free Jeffrey Havard
- I Stand With James
- Marsha Mills Is Innocent
- SBS Project – Sean O’Geary
- Brian Peixoto: Struggle for Innocence
- Evidence Based Medicine and Social Investigation Group
- Pediatric Justice Association (Facebook page only)
- Rickets an Epidemic – Medical Misdiagnosis of Child Abuse (Facebook page only)