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 wrongly accused of child abuse based on medical misdiagnoses.
End the medical misdiagnosis of child abuse and inappropriate handling of these cases by:
- Educating the public, lawmakers, and medical and legal professionals
- Encouraging research to improve diagnostic accuracy and understand the impact of false accusations
- Uniting affected families, organizations, and communities to fulfill these goals
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 biomechanics researchers report that padded flooring next to changing tables would save lives.
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.
The misdiagnosis of “medical child abuse,” in which doctors accuse parents of seeking unnecessary medical care for their children, is also a growing problem. (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.
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.
- Cases – stories of families torn apart by misdiagnoses
- Medical Issues – controversies and misconceptions in child abuse medicine
- Resources – suggestions if you’ve been wrongfully accused of child abuse
- In the Media – a sampling of press treatments
- Updates – postings from PIF
PIF tries to stay in touch with other organizations and individuals who share our goals, including:
- Torn Family
- The Amanda Truth Project
- Fractured Families
- Pediatric Accountability in Central Illinois
- Shaken Baby: A Diagnosis on Trial
- Shaken Baby Syndrome Resources
- Tragedy – SBS (Sean O’Geary)
- Brian Peixoto: Struggle for Innocence
- Riksförbundiet för Familjers Rättigheter (translated from the Swedish as “National Association for Families’ Rights”)
- una Mamma, un Papá* (an Italian site)
- Association Adika: Une voix pour les personnes accusées á tort de maltraitance (translated from the French as “A voice for people accused of abuse or maltreatment”)
Asso Adikia (their Facebook page)
- Free Jeffrey Havard
- Yhip Innocence
- Free Clayton Allison (Facebook page)
- I Stand With James
- Marsha Mills Is Innocent
- Evidence Based Medicine and Social Investigation Group
- Injustice : Syndrome du Bebe Secoue* (French Facebook group)
- Pediatric Justice Association (Facebook page only)
- Rickets an Epidemic – Medical Misdiagnosis of Child Abuse (Facebook page only)
- Andrew Sprint Wrongly Accused of SBS (Facebook page only)
* Logo courtesy of Chiara Zini, creator of the site una Mamma, un Papá