From the May 2002 Idaho Observer:

Sen. Walter Mondale fathered the $multi-billion child protection industry in America

by Ingri Cassel

When Walter Mondale sponsored the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in 1974, it was considered a much-needed federal bill since child abuse was rarely reported and frequently covered up. Also known as the Mondale Act, CAPTA and the federal money it provided to fund the war on child abuse and neglect gave birth to the $multi-billion child protection industry in America.

CAPTA has been growing and expanding since 1974. Federal funds allocated to the states have increased to the point that The Sutherland Institute reported in 2000 that the state of Utah received as much as $100,000 per child per year that it managed to retain in state custody.

Certain provisions in CAPTA have encouraged people to report frivolous and even fabricated allegations of child abuse and neglect to government child protection agencies. CAPTA has encouraged these agencies to zealously pursue even the most outrageous allegations as factual to inflate their caseloads, thereby justifying an increased flow of federal (and state) dollars into their agency budgets.

To qualify for federal funds, states had to pass legislation that would provide immunity from prosecution for all those reporting child abuse. Although this is good for those who need the confidence to come forward to report legitimate child abuse, it also provides the same immunity for people making false accusations.

Another state requirement for continued federal funding was the passing of legislation requiring health professionals, counselors, law enforcement officers, teachers and school administrators to report suspected child abuse to the appropriate child protection agency. This mandated reporting system had to be backed up with fines or jail time for failure to report. This has lead to a proliferation of false allegations since those reporting are both guaranteed immunity and some are threatened should they fail to report any suspected abuse.

Under CAPTA it is not considered a crime to file a fabricated child abuse claim. Families who are victims of false allegations are not compensated by CAPTA regardless of how devastating the allegations have been financially and/or emotionally.

There has been an explosion in reports of child abuse and neglect since CAPTA was enacted in all 50 states -- 2/3 of which were found upon investigation to be without merit. According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, “.more than three million reports of alleged child abuse and neglect [were reported] in 1995, of which two million of those complaints were found to be without foundation.”

Many claims are the result of nasty divorces and custody battles where the children become the pawns of angry parents. One defense attorney in California who specializes in defending sexual allegations in divorce stated, “In one fell swoop, she (the mother) can get her husband completely out of her and her children's lives, and assure herself complete custodial control. And in one fell swoop, she can completely destroy the man's life, and any semblance of a normal relationship between him and his children.”

Under CAPTA the definitions of child abuse and neglect have expanded dramatically as demonstrated in the Christine family case in Oregon (The Idaho Observer, March, 2002) and the Fasinro family case in North Carolina. (The Idaho Observer, April 2002). Despite more and more similar stories, especially among families who choose to homeschool, eat a vegetarian diet and/or not vaccinate their children, CAPTA was again reinforced and allotted more federal tax dollars (See press release below).

Since CAPTA became federal law in 1974 state child protection agencies have been provided strong financial incentives to put children in foster care. Whether they are actually abused or neglected seems to be a secondary consideration.

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