Medical Child Abuse: Sean’s Story

Gary and Nancy took their nine-month-old son, Sean, into his “regular pediatrician’s office” (p. 25) because he seemed to be having trouble moving around. Due to an orthopedist not being able to see him quickly, though, they wound up at a hospital.

At the hospital, Sean was subjected to a skeletal survey and CT scan simply to see if there was evidence of his parents abusing them. Since the skeletal survey showed “a weeks-old healing fracture on Sean’s right leg” (p. 27), DCFS was called. The parents explained that he’d fallen out of his crib the month before, and that they didn’t realize that had caused an injury. As a doctor later testified, “Infants do not always cry or appear abnormal with slight, small fractures” (p. 29). Yet Sean’s parents were not allowed to take Sean home without agreeing to a “safety plan” in which they would be supervised when around all of their children.

While the “allegations against Nancy [Sean’s mother]” appear to be cleared quicker, it took eight months before “Gary’s [Sean’s father’s] lawyer was able to persuade an Administrative Law Judge and the Director of DCFS that the allegation of neglect was erroneous” (p. 29).

Take Action

Sean’s story illustrates the abuse that is often happening to families in the very name of protection. Sean endured tests he didn’t need–and his whole family endured a lot of trauma over false accusations. Please take action by sharing this story with your friends, encouraging them to sign up for our updates on important parental rights issues, and partnering with us through a one-time or monthly donation. Together, we can make a difference.

Sean’s story is a summary of the story shared on pages 24-31 of Medical Ethics Concerns in Physical Child Abuse Investigations: A Critical Perspective. Quotes are from that source.