I write regarding your front-page story on May 8, “A good day for justice.” It raises some serious questions about how the child protection system is functioning.
Defence lawyer Erin Breen stated of her client Colin Matchim, “this was a miscarriage of justice and I think the entry of the acquittal … is an acknowledgement that his conviction had been wrongful.”
I wholeheartedly agree. Sadly, there appears to be a worrying trend in the last several years for the pediatric establishment and Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) to falsely accuse caregivers of abuse by shaking. Fortunately, the courts are out in front of this issue and recognize the medical establishment has not gotten their act together in terms of providing clear evidence-based diagnoses.
Instead, in such cases there have been too many medical misdiagnoses. Too often, when a pediatrician cannot determine the cause of a child’s symptoms upon presentation, the default diagnosis is that the child was shaken. For whatever reason, a cognitive bias or wilful blindness sets in and clear evidence contained within the child’s medical file from birth is ignored. CYFS, for its part, also fails to carry out due diligence in its investigations, which arguably are far from being thorough and objective.
Pediatricians need to acknowledge the peer-reviewed medical research in the past decade that has debunked the theory of shaken baby, that symptoms that used to be “pathognomic” (only possible cause of shaken baby) have now been recognized worldwide and can be explained by a variety of causes including prematurity, difficult birth, skull growth disorders and malformations, blood disorders, raised intracranial pressure, just to name a few.
When a father or mother has been falsely accused and the court finally returns custody after two years of suffering, anguish, bankruptcy and families torn asunder, how is this in the interest of the child?
No one is arguing that children should not be protected. But that’s not an excuse to be unprofessional and irresponsible.
The child protection system needs to do better.