Skip to main content



Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

Browse or Search All Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages (10,000+). The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - September 14, 2018 and is updated quarterly.

Instructions: Postings are listed for browsing with the newest messages first. Click on the linked ID number to see a message. You can search the author, subject, message ID, and message content fields by entering your criteria into this search box:

Message ID: 9008
Date: 2011-11-08

Author:E. Christopher Lloyd

Subject:RE: National Child Abuse and Neglect Registry

We may have to agree to disagree, but here's my reply. 1. As a prior post noted, the evidence on sex offender registries is questionable (at best) and more likely it produces undesirable results. What evidence exists to support a registry at the state level? Presumably they are intended to protect children from maltreatment. Were there serial child abusers moving from daycare to daycare beating children that were suddenly stopped by registries? More realistically, is there any evidence said databases have any actual protective value? More importantly, what other uses might those funds be put to that have unequivocal scientific support? Aggregating 52 databases will require very technical and specific federal mandates to enact and substantial funds to implement and maintain by both the states and a federal agency. The costs will run well into the tens of millions and likely top 100 million dollars before anything is up and running. Database integration work is expensive, highly technical, and requires strong leadership with a clear vision of what they want. Is this really the best use of quite scarce child welfare resources? I can certainly think of more than a few things to do with 100 million dollars that are well-supported by scientific evidence to prevent child maltreatment. 2. Child welfare databases are currently private, but also mostly unknown. Once this project is completed, how long does anyone here think it will be before some crusading activist or politician decides that "people have a right to know" if a child beater is living next door to them and gets the database opened to the public (perhaps with SO-like humiliations piled on)? 3. "5) “Its not keyed to conviction.” The fact that registries include individuals who have not been convicted of a crime in court doesn’t seem like a big deal given the restricted uses and privacy that surround the registry. If you want to talk about exposure without conviction, look at law enforcement databases, not child abuse registries--you can get your name on a RAP sheet simply for being picked up by the police, and unlike child abuse registries that is public information that anybody can get. There are millions of people in this world with an arrest record—all very public---but comparatively few people who get reported for child abuse—all very protected. " Social injustice in pursuit of child protection is still social injustice and the ends do not justify the means. What you've described may be legal, but I (for one) do not take moral or ethical instruction from lawyers (or the legal system). 4. When has being in an offender database ever exculpated someone? (I'm not aware of any system that judges a report "bogus".) In the case you cited, which of the of the following is the most likely interpretation (especially when the database is opened to the public)? A. This poor soul with 20 unsubstantiated reports is being harassed and is certainly innocent of any wrong-doing this time as well. B. This child-beating deviant SOB has gotten away with it 20 times before, but we'll nail him this time and make him pay for all the children be's battered! 4. I'd refer you to the Homeland Security No-Fly database for concerns about misidentified persons and how well problems get resolved. If that system is acceptable to you, then we'll agree to disagree. Once you're in, you're in forever. The feds (and the states) do many fine things and do them surprisingly well in spite of political rhetoric to the contrary. But the reality of this project is this: 1. There's no evidence it provides any benefit, and it will be very expensive in a time when CWS is grossly underfunded. 2. It will become politicized and public 3. No one on it will ever escape the stigma of it, guilty or not. Jobs will be lost, families torn apart, reputations and careers destroyed. Remember, once your name is on a database like this, you are guilty until proven innocent. That's how the sex offender database, the No-Fly database, the federal Terror Watch List database, and EVERY OTHER database like this works. There's no reason to think this one will be run any differently. 4. As I've said, it seems manifestly unjust to stigmatize and penalize 'perpetrators' who are often guilty of nothing more than being very, very poor, or lost in substance abuse, or simply part of an oppressed and vulnerable minority (as in the NPR stories), even if (by some genuine miracle) this database is only accessible to employers, law enforcement, child welfare, schools, government, etc. (wow, that's a lot of people for a 'private' system). It's ethically and morally wrong and it won't work. Chris E. Christopher Lloyd, PhD, LCSW Assistant Professor School of Social Work University of Arkansas at Little Rock 2801 South University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204 501.569.8486 --- On Tue, 11/8/11, Francis Drake wrote: Just a few observations on this discussion of child abuse registries. First, most states already have them, and to my knowledge they are not particularly controversial at the state level. So, why would aggregating state databases together into a National Registry, with no changes in use restrictions, suddenly become repressive? I’m just not sure it’s a good argument that fragmented databases are OK, but an aggregated one is suddenly repressive. The analogy mentioned in several posts is with sex offender registries. This analogy is a mistake IMO, and based only on the most superficial similarities (e.g. that we have a new national sex offender registry out there which lots of people, myself included, find at least partially misguided). Here are a few of the differences between SO registries and child abuse registries, and how I might respond to some of the other concerns raised in earlier posts: 1) Sex offender registries are usually public—child abuse registries are not only not public, but are very closely guarded and their use is normally limited to official child welfare systems, occasional limited scientific research, and legally mandated background checks. “Name and Shame” is what sex offender registries are all about—it is not what child abuse registries have ever been about. Anywhere. Aggregating state databases together would not necessarily and should not change this. 2) Sex offender registration places a considerable burden on registrants because it is active—you have to regularly go to the police station and update your information, and there are criminal penalties if you don’t. Child abuse registries are passive. Active requirements for child abuse registrants do not exist. Because there are no requirements, there are no penalties for not meeting them. Aggregating would not necessarily and should not change this. 3) Sex offender registration is the lynchpin for a number of other public policies that confer disadvantage—residency restrictions, proactive notification of schools (for juveniles), Halloween laws, restrictions on internet access and use, etc. None of these apply to child abuse registries. Nobody is ending up living under a bridge in a de facto leper colony because they are on a state child abuse registry. Aggregating would not necessarily and should not change this. 4) The only commonality I see off the top of my head is that both are used for pre-employment screening. This is already true at state levels, as required by state laws. Aggregating state databases together would increase the sensitivity of these screens, but would not necessarily create new pre-employment screening requirements. It would mean that you cannot move to another state to evade a bad pre-employment screen, which you currently can do. So, I suppose it depends on whether you view flight to another state to avoid a bad pre-employment screen as a basic right to be preserved, or as a loophole to be closed. 5) “Its not keyed to conviction.” The fact that registries include individuals who have not been convicted of a crime in court doesn’t seem like a big deal given the restricted uses and privacy that surround the registry. If you want to talk about exposure without conviction, look at law enforcement databases, not child abuse registries--you can get your name on a RAP sheet simply for being picked up by the police, and unlike child abuse registries that is public information that anybody can get. There are millions of people in this world with an arrest record—all very public---but comparatively few people who get reported for child abuse—all very protected. 6) “There are variations across jurisdictions in definition.” So? Coding and definition variations exist in virtually every kind of aggregated database—including law enforcement, centralized medical records, credit scores, school records, insurance records, consumer records, etc.. Maybe this is a headache for researchers and epidemiologists, but it diminishes utility only marginally for a child welfare worker who might need to know if there has been a track record of other reports in the past. The “hit” will tell a worker where to start looking, regardless of definitional inconsistencies. 7) “The registry record is needlessly pejorative.” But, then, its also potentially exculpatory too. Child welfare may consider 20 past bogus reports from a discredited source when they field the 21st. Plus, if those reports are not bogus, we all know that the number of past reports is probably the single strongest predictor of risk for future maltreatment. I’m not sure its pejorative if the risk is real. 8) “There are not good unique identifiers, so misidentification is a problem.” This is a valid issue. But, it’s a technical and therefore solvable one. Amazon.com and itunes seem to have figured out reasonable solutions to this database cleaning issue, so there is existing technology that could be transferred. 9) “If it’s to be a National Registry, the feds will have to design it, and they can be trusted to mess things up.” OK, I’ll acknowledge the real possibility here. But, then, perhaps we’ve learned from the National SO registration debacle, and can take advantage of the many differences in purpose between the two, which I’ve mentioned above. In short, while I find Big Brother as distasteful as the next guy, I just don’t see the sex offender registration analogy here, nor do I see how this would constitute that big of a change over what many individual states already are doing, and have been doing for decades without a rash of major incidents. In fact, the only place I see registry data being used against someone is when child welfare workers get sued or get in the newspaper for allegedly failing to take action to prevent a child death in the face of repeated reports documented by the registry. The advantage of aggregating databases is a clear one—when a new report of abuse comes in, the investigating child welfare system might obtain some fairly important data about past reports, terminations, suspicious deaths, risk, etc. that otherwise would not be available simply due to relocation across state lines. Mark Chaffin, PhD Professor of Pediatrics University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center P.O. Box 26901 Oklahoma City, OK (405) 271-8858 mark-chaffin@ouhsc.edu This message (including attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential or protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that dissemination, disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this message or any information contained in it is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender by reply e-mail and delete this message from your computer. Although we have taken steps to ensure that this e-mail and attachments are free from any virus, we advise that in keeping with good computing practice the recipient should ensure they are actually virus free. Illegitimi non carborundum From: E. Christopher Lloyd [mailto:eclloyd22@yahoo.com] Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 11:27 AM Subject: Re: National Child Abuse & Neglect Registry There are numerous problems with constructing such a database. As others have noted, states define maltreatment types differently and on top of that problem, some states' investigations do not produce a definitive statement of whether maltreatment occurred (and of what type and/or severity). More importantly, if the database is based on criminal convictions (as is a sexual offender database), then it will miss many, if not most, maltreatment perpetrators as criminal cases are not filed for every case (and convictions obtained in fewer). Beyond those problems, plea bargains and other legal activities mean the perpetrator may not be eventually convicted of an offense that indicates maltreatment (e.g., a plea that reduces charges to assault and battery from child endangerment). On the other hand, one could use child welfare case data. But the lack of legal protections (rights to due process, legal representation, etc.) would make this almost certainly unconstitutional. And using case data would significantly impair the rehabilitative function of child welfare services even if it were. I hope our commitment to social justice would preclude social workers from endorsing such a database. Child maltreatment is densely intertwined with poverty, substance abuse, intolerance, and other problems. Do we really want to brand people with a permanent "OFFENDER" label for, in at least some cases, being no more than terribly poor or a victim of intolerance or (as the recent NPR reports on native Americans in child welfare might suggest) bureaucracies run amok? Chris E. Christopher Lloyd, PhD, LCSW Assistant Professor School of Social Work University of Arkansas at Little Rock 2801 South University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204 501.569.8486

We may have to agree to disagree, but here's my reply. 1. As a prior post noted, the evidence on sex offender registries is questionable (at best) and more likely it produces undesirable results. What evidence exists to support a registry at the state level? Presumably they are intended to protect children from maltreatment. Were there serial child abusers moving from daycare to daycare beating children that were suddenly stopped by registries? More realistically, is there any evidence said databases have any actual protective value? More importantly, what other uses might those funds be put to that have unequivocal scientific support? Aggregating 52 databases will require very technical and specific federal mandates to enact and substantial funds to implement and maintain by both the states and a federal agency. The costs will run well into the tens of millions and likely top 100 million dollars before anything is up and running. Database integration work is expensive, highly technical, and requires strong leadership with a clear vision of what they want. Is this really the best use of quite scarce child welfare resources? I can certainly think of more than a few things to do with 100 million dollars that are well-supported by scientific evidence to prevent child maltreatment. 2. Child welfare databases are currently private, but also mostly unknown. Once this project is completed, how long does anyone here think it will be before some crusading activist or politician decides that "people have a right to know" if a child beater is living next door to them and gets the database opened to the public (perhaps with SO-like humiliations piled on)? 3. "5) “Its not keyed to conviction.” The fact that registries include individuals who have not been convicted of a crime in court doesn’t seem like a big deal given the restricted uses and privacy that surround the registry. If you want to talk about exposure without conviction, look at law enforcement databases, not child abuse registries--you can get your name on a RAP sheet simply for being picked up by the police, and unlike child abuse registries that is public information that anybody can get. There are millions of people in this world with an arrest record—all very public---but comparatively few people who get reported for child abuse—all very protected. " Social injustice in pursuit of child protection is still social injustice and the ends do not justify the means. What you've described may be legal, but I (for one) do not take moral or ethical instruction from lawyers (or the legal system). 4. When has being in an offender database ever exculpated someone? (I'm not aware of any system that judges a report "bogus".) In the case you cited, which of the of the following is the most likely interpretation (especially when the database is opened to the public)? A. This poor soul with 20 unsubstantiated reports is being harassed and is certainly innocent of any wrong-doing this time as well. B. This child-beating deviant SOB has gotten away with it 20 times before, but we'll nail him this time and make him pay for all the children be's battered! 4. I'd refer you to the Homeland Security No-Fly database for concerns about misidentified persons and how well problems get resolved. If that system is acceptable to you, then we'll agree to disagree. Once you're in, you're in forever. The feds (and the states) do many fine things and do them surprisingly well in spite of political rhetoric to the contrary. But the reality of this project is this: 1. There's no evidence it provides any benefit, and it will be very expensive in a time when CWS is grossly underfunded. 2. It will become politicized and public 3. No one on it will ever escape the stigma of it, guilty or not. Jobs will be lost, families torn apart, reputations and careers destroyed. Remember, once your name is on a database like this, you are guilty until proven innocent. That's how the sex offender database, the No-Fly database, the federal Terror Watch List database, and EVERY OTHER database like this works. There's no reason to think this one will be run any differently. 4. As I've said, it seems manifestly unjust to stigmatize and penalize 'perpetrators' who are often guilty of nothing more than being very, very poor, or lost in substance abuse, or simply part of an oppressed and vulnerable minority (as in the NPR stories), even if (by some genuine miracle) this database is only accessible to employers, law enforcement, child welfare, schools, government, etc. (wow, that's a lot of people for a 'private' system). It's ethically and morally wrong and it won't work. Chris E. Christopher Lloyd, PhD, LCSW Assistant Professor School of Social Work University of Arkansas at Little Rock 2801 South University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204 501.569.8486 --- On Tue, 11/8/11, Francis Drake wrote: Just a few observations on this discussion of child abuse registries. First, most states already have them, and to my knowledge they are not particularly controversial at the state level. So, why would aggregating state databases together into a National Registry, with no changes in use restrictions, suddenly become repressive? I’m just not sure it’s a good argument that fragmented databases are OK, but an aggregated one is suddenly repressive. The analogy mentioned in several posts is with sex offender registries. This analogy is a mistake IMO, and based only on the most superficial similarities (e.g. that we have a new national sex offender registry out there which lots of people, myself included, find at least partially misguided). Here are a few of the differences between SO registries and child abuse registries, and how I might respond to some of the other concerns raised in earlier posts: 1) Sex offender registries are usually public—child abuse registries are not only not public, but are very closely guarded and their use is normally limited to official child welfare systems, occasional limited scientific research, and legally mandated background checks. “Name and Shame” is what sex offender registries are all about—it is not what child abuse registries have ever been about. Anywhere. Aggregating state databases together would not necessarily and should not change this. 2) Sex offender registration places a considerable burden on registrants because it is active—you have to regularly go to the police station and update your information, and there are criminal penalties if you don’t. Child abuse registries are passive. Active requirements for child abuse registrants do not exist. Because there are no requirements, there are no penalties for not meeting them. Aggregating would not necessarily and should not change this. 3) Sex offender registration is the lynchpin for a number of other public policies that confer disadvantage—residency restrictions, proactive notification of schools (for juveniles), Halloween laws, restrictions on internet access and use, etc. None of these apply to child abuse registries. Nobody is ending up living under a bridge in a de facto leper colony because they are on a state child abuse registry. Aggregating would not necessarily and should not change this. 4) The only commonality I see off the top of my head is that both are used for pre-employment screening. This is already true at state levels, as required by state laws. Aggregating state databases together would increase the sensitivity of these screens, but would not necessarily create new pre-employment screening requirements. It would mean that you cannot move to another state to evade a bad pre-employment screen, which you currently can do. So, I suppose it depends on whether you view flight to another state to avoid a bad pre-employment screen as a basic right to be preserved, or as a loophole to be closed. 5) “Its not keyed to conviction.” The fact that registries include individuals who have not been convicted of a crime in court doesn’t seem like a big deal given the restricted uses and privacy that surround the registry. If you want to talk about exposure without conviction, look at law enforcement databases, not child abuse registries--you can get your name on a RAP sheet simply for being picked up by the police, and unlike child abuse registries that is public information that anybody can get. There are millions of people in this world with an arrest record—all very public---but comparatively few people who get reported for child abuse—all very protected. 6) “There are variations across jurisdictions in definition.” So? Coding and definition variations exist in virtually every kind of aggregated database—including law enforcement, centralized medical records, credit scores, school records, insurance records, consumer records, etc.. Maybe this is a headache for researchers and epidemiologists, but it diminishes utility only marginally for a child welfare worker who might need to know if there has been a track record of other reports in the past. The “hit” will tell a worker where to start looking, regardless of definitional inconsistencies. 7) “The registry record is needlessly pejorative.” But, then, its also potentially exculpatory too. Child welfare may consider 20 past bogus reports from a discredited source when they field the 21st. Plus, if those reports are not bogus, we all know that the number of past reports is probably the single strongest predictor of risk for future maltreatment. I’m not sure its pejorative if the risk is real. 8) “There are not good unique identifiers, so misidentification is a problem.” This is a valid issue. But, it’s a technical and therefore solvable one. Amazon.com and itunes seem to have figured out reasonable solutions to this database cleaning issue, so there is existing technology that could be transferred. 9) “If it’s to be a National Registry, the feds will have to design it, and they can be trusted to mess things up.” OK, I’ll acknowledge the real possibility here. But, then, perhaps we’ve learned from the National SO registration debacle, and can take advantage of the many differences in purpose between the two, which I’ve mentioned above. In short, while I find Big Brother as distasteful as the next guy, I just don’t see the sex offender registration analogy here, nor do I see how this would constitute that big of a change over what many individual states already are doing, and have been doing for decades without a rash of major incidents. In fact, the only place I see registry data being used against someone is when child welfare workers get sued or get in the newspaper for allegedly failing to take action to prevent a child death in the face of repeated reports documented by the registry. The advantage of aggregating databases is a clear one—when a new report of abuse comes in, the investigating child welfare system might obtain some fairly important data about past reports, terminations, suspicious deaths, risk, etc. that otherwise would not be available simply due to relocation across state lines. Mark Chaffin, PhD Professor of Pediatrics University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center P.O. Box 26901 Oklahoma City, OK (405) 271-8858 mark-chaffinouhsc.edu This message (including attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential or protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that dissemination, disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this message or any information contained in it is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender by reply e-mail and delete this message from your computer. Although we have taken steps to ensure that this e-mail and attachments are free from any virus, we advise that in keeping with good computing practice the recipient should ensure they are actually virus free. Illegitimi non carborundum From: E. Christopher Lloyd [mailto:eclloyd22yahoo.com] Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 11:27 AM Subject: Re: National Child Abuse & Neglect Registry There are numerous problems with constructing such a database. As others have noted, states define maltreatment types differently and on top of that problem, some states' investigations do not produce a definitive statement of whether maltreatment occurred (and of what type and/or severity). More importantly, if the database is based on criminal convictions (as is a sexual offender database), then it will miss many, if not most, maltreatment perpetrators as criminal cases are not filed for every case (and convictions obtained in fewer). Beyond those problems, plea bargains and other legal activities mean the perpetrator may not be eventually convicted of an offense that indicates maltreatment (e.g., a plea that reduces charges to assault and battery from child endangerment). On the other hand, one could use child welfare case data. But the lack of legal protections (rights to due process, legal representation, etc.) would make this almost certainly unconstitutional. And using case data would significantly impair the rehabilitative function of child welfare services even if it were. I hope our commitment to social justice would preclude social workers from endorsing such a database. Child maltreatment is densely intertwined with poverty, substance abuse, intolerance, and other problems. Do we really want to brand people with a permanent "OFFENDER" label for, in at least some cases, being no more than terribly poor or a victim of intolerance or (as the recent NPR reports on native Americans in child welfare might suggest) bureaucracies run amok? Chris E. Christopher Lloyd, PhD, LCSW Assistant Professor School of Social Work University of Arkansas at Little Rock 2801 South University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204 501.569.8486