Tahlequah Daily Press


December 13, 2006

False reports of abuse should be dealt with harshly

Most reasonable people would agree that, when it comes to protecting children from predators and abusers, society should take every necessary precaution. And since we have it from the highest authority that we are, indeed, our brothers’ keepers, every member of society bears a degree of responsibility for protecting all children – not just our own.

So it’s a good idea to uphold laws that require certain individuals – like teachers and childcare workers, for instance – to report cases of abuse when they see them. And whistleblowers have to be protected, too, because a person who abuses his (or her) kids is very likely to lash out against anyone who would expose the wrongdoing.

Yet in Cherokee County and elsewhere, there’s another problem police officers and social workers need to address, and that’s the occasional abuse of the law people who file bogus reports. Almost everyone has a friend or family member who has been victimized by a small-minded, petty individual who exacts a personal vendetta by filing a false report. The reasons for such unconscionable behavior are many, but none hold water.

Over the past 20 years, at least three daycare workers in Cherokee County have talked to the Daily Press about the nightmares that unfolded when they were accused of abusing their charges. Later, it turned out none of the allegations were valid. One was made by a parent who refused to pay her bill; one was filed by a bitter ex-husband of the worker in question; and the third was concocted by a boy who had been scolded after bullying other children.

Even the Daily Press has not escaped the cross-hairs of miscreants bent on destroying families. In the past two decades, no less than four employees – and probably several more – have been maliciously targeted. The same can be said for many other businesses, too.

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