Abuse & Neglect In-service Materials


Podcast: Do No Harm

Melissa Bright thinks she's living every parent's worst nightmare when her five-month-old baby tumbles from a lawn chair and hits his head on the driveway. But after she rushes him to the hospital, a new nightmare begins. The Brights are thrust into a medical and legal system so focused on protecting children from abuse, it has targeted innocent parents. With exclusive audio captured as the events unfolded, this harrowing six-episode series takes you inside the Brights' fight to hold their family together, against a system that can sometimes do more harm than good. Hosted by NBC News National Investigative Reporter Mike Hixenbaugh, Do No Harm is a co-production of NBC News and Wondery.


Two Families, Two Fates: When the Misdiagnosis is Child Abuse​​​​

The Marshall Project, 8/20/20

Within hours of bringing their children to the hospitals, each family’s life would change. Both sets of parents would eventually lose custody of their child. One parent would be jailed. One baby would live. One baby would die. And both children’s cases would turn on the diagnosis of a child-abuse pediatrician, an increasingly powerful medical specialty. These doctors are trained in diagnosing child abuse, in writing reports meant to hold up in court, and in providing testimony on behalf of state prosecutors. Many of their salaries are paid, in part, by the child-welfare departments charged with separating parents and children. The doctors’ opinions can be subjective and powerful, even overruling other specialists’. But none of the parents knew that child-abuse pediatricians existed—not even as they talked with them, unwittingly sharing information that became a part of a case against them.​


Free, on-demand webinars available from the Zero Abuse Project's video library

The Zero Abuse Project's mission is to protect children from abuse and sexual assault, by engaging people and resources through a trauma-informed approach of education, research, advocacy, and advanced technology.

Videos on their site include topics such as "Community Notification: What Do I Say to the Children", "Reporting without Revictimizing: Media as a partner in prevention" and "Disclosures".


Child Abuse Cases Drop 51 Percent. The Authorities Are Very Worried.

Article in The New York Times

The coronavirus has shattered the system that protects children, leaving some confined in troubled homes or lingering in foster care.


Reports of child abuse in New York City have dropped sharply since the coronavirus crisis began.


And that is worrying the authorities. The steep decline could be a sign that an unseen epidemic of abuse is spreading behind locked doors, according to the police, prosecutors and child protection officials. As the virus has shuttered the city, the fragile system of safeguards designed to protect children has fallen apart.


The Worst Situation Imaginable for Family Violence

Article in The Atlantic

All over the United States, adults and children have been quarantined for weeks with people who hurt them.

When lockdown and shelter-in-place protocols aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 went into effect earlier this spring, they put many Americans into circumstances they previously could only have imagined. While for many families the situation has meant isolation and monotony, for those who live with their abusers it has been a nightmare. Under coronavirus social-distancing protocols, the worst-case scenario for people who live with an abuser has more or less materialized. Social workers, lawyers, and advocates have had to rapidly adjust their services in order to get help to domestic- and child-abuse victims who are trapped inside with their abusers.


Film "Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story" on Netflix

The brilliant and moving film, Cracked Up, by director Michelle Esrick was released to Netflix on Friday, May 1st, 2020. It profiles actor and comedian Darrell Hammond's healing journey as he discovers the childhood trauma behind his struggles with addiction and mental illness.


What COVID-19 means for America's child welfare system

In late April, the Brookings Institution released a report on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the U.S. child welfare system. "The crisis has unveiled holes in the child welfare system that call for both immediate and long-term action. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of factors that will almost certainly lead to a sharp increase in unreported cases of child abuse and neglect, as children are cut off from interactions with professionals and teachers, confined at home with caregivers and relatives, and families are feeling the stress of job loss and economic uncertainty."


A Dozen Calls to Child Abuse Hotline Did Not Save 8-Year-Old Boy

NYTimes Article by Sarah Maslin Nir

Teachers, officials and his mother feared for the autistic child, who the police said died after his father made him sleep in a freezing garage.

The case, with its documented piles of reports, phone calls and court filings — in which teachers, nurses, school psychologists, advocates and the Valva boys’ mother tried unsuccessfully to raise the alarm about the children’s treatment by their father, a veteran transit cop — has turned a harsh light on Suffolk County’s child protection agency.


‘If Those Were Pictures of You, You Would Understand’

NYTimes Article

Two sisters talk candidly about their lives after being sexually abused as children. It has been 10 years, but online photos and videos continue to haunt them.

Millions of photos and videos of children being sexually abused exist on a wide range of platforms, from Dropbox to Facebook Messenger, for criminals around the world to see. An investigation by The New York Times found that the technology industry has consistently failed to take coordinated steps to shut down the illegal content.

Related NYTimes article here:  Child Abusers Run Rampant as Tech Companies Look the Other Way


Give Your Child the Tools to Recognize Sexual Abuse

NYTimes Children's Health article by By Shani Zoldan-Verschleiser.

Talk to kids about their bodies and empower them to speak out.

"Sexual abuse remains an underreported crime, yet there are more outlets than ever for survivors to talk about traumatic experiences. Light is slowly shining into the dark places where predators have always hidden and on those who harbor and aid them. So while stories of abuse by trusted clergy or even family members are difficult to read and painful to witness, I am elated to know that we are finally giving a voice to the voiceless. Statistics show at least one in 10 children in the United States will be sexually abused before their 18th birthdays — it’s a topic we cannot ignore."


The Child Abuse Charge Was Dismissed. But It Can Still Cost You a Job.

New York Times article regarding state databases of people who have mistreated children, and how in some cases it is especially easy to get on the database and arduous to be removed, amounting to a blacklist for many jobs.


Book: "Small Fry" by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Steve Jobs' daughter

Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan were 23 when their daughter was born. Lisa Brennan-Jobs remembers the pride and pain of a childhood spent navigating the vastness between her struggling single mom and Apple’s mercurial founder.


Book by Gavin de Becker: "Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)"  (book mentioned at 1/14/19 inservice)

Safety skills for children outside the home
Warning signs of sexual abuse
Strategies for keeping teenagers safe from violence

All parents face the same challenges when it comes to their children’s safety: whom to trust, whom to distrust, what to believe, what to doubt, what to fear, and what not to fear. In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the nation’s leading expert on predicting violent behavior and author of the monumental bestseller The Gift of Fear, offers practical new steps to enhance children’s safety at every age level, giving you the tools you need to allow your kids freedom without losing sleep yourself. With daring and compassion, he shatters the widely held myths about danger and safety and helps parents find some certainty about life’s highest-stakes questions.


"The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma" by Bessel van der Kolk M.D  (book mentioned at 1/14/19 inservice)

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.


"The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child" by Nancy Newton Verrier   (book mentioned at 1/14/19 inservice)

The Primal Wound is a book which is revolutionizing the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birth mother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior.


When Report Cards Go Out on Fridays, Child Abuse Increases on Saturdays, Study Finds

New York Times article 

Report card day can provoke anxiety and dread among students. It may also lead some of them to fear for their physical well-being. A new study found a nearly fourfold increase in confirmed reports of child abuse on the Saturdays immediately after the distribution of report cards at Florida public schools.


When Schools Use Child Protective Services As A Weapon Against Parents

Huffington Post article by Caroline Preston and Rebecca Klein

Teachers and school employees are required to report suspicions of child abuse to authorities. But sometimes schools misuse this authority to punish parents.


Study brief: Raising the minimum wage would reduce child neglect cases

Study brief from IU Bloomington

Raising the minimum wage by $1 per hour would result in a substantial decrease in the number of reported cases of child neglect, according to a new study co-authored by an Indiana University researcher.

"Money matters," Bullinger said. "When caregivers have more disposable income, they're better able to provide a child's basic needs such as clothing, food, medical care and a safe home. Policies that increase the income of the working poor can improve children's welfare, especially younger children, quite substantially."


Podcast: Paying a Price for Child Protective Services

WNYC, The Brian Lehrer Show, with Larissa MacFarquhar 

Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help (Penguin Books, 2016) and Emma Ketteringham, managing director of the Family Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders, discuss how cases are handled in New York City family court, where lawyers and judges must decide whether the risks to a child at home outweigh the risks of separating a family. "The vast majority of cases in family court are not cases of abuse, they're cases of neglect. The problem is that when an awful killing or an abuse case becomes publicized, that has ramifications for all the other cases in family court that have nothing to do with physical abuse, that are cases of neglect or that have to do with poverty," says MacFarquhar. 

Related New Yorker article, "When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents? In family court, judges must decide whether the risks at home outweigh the risks of separating a family." By Larissa MacFarquhar