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Protect yourself against false allegations of abuse

Allegations of child abuse have a lot of power -- and some people have no reservations about using that power to manipulate or punish someone else if they think it will accomplish their goals.

Whether you're accused of abusing a child physically or sexually, one false allegation can destroy your career and ruin your reputation in your community. Learn how to protect yourself from false allegations as much as possible.

1. Be aware of your potential risk.

If you are going through an ugly divorce, are in an emotional custody battle over a child or have deep-seated conflicts with other family members (like grandparents and siblings) who don't approve of your lifestyle or parenting methods, you could easily become the target of false allegations of abuse.

Other people who are at increased risk of false allegations include child care workers, teachers, tutors, private instructors (for music lessons, dance or some other skill), coaches and scout leaders.

2. Make it harder for someone to victimize you.

If you are a coach, tutor, daycare operator or in another profession that puts you in contact with children, you can minimize your risk of a false allegation by trying to not be alone with any child. The presence of another adult who can serve as your witness is a valuable safeguard.

If that's not possible, consider using a video monitoring system to protect yourself. Make it possible for others to observe you and the children through windows and allow parents to drop in at any time.

If you're concerned you'll be accused of abusing your own child, those steps aren't generally practical -- but you can still make it difficult for someone to make a credible accusation by developing a good relationship with your child's teachers, coaches, therapist, doctors and friends' parents. All of those people may be able to later testify to your good parenting and the absence of signs of abuse.

3. Get an attorney to fight the allegations.

Don't assume that the truth will protect you -- child abuse is an emotional topic and even the authorities can jump to conclusions based on very little evidence. Don't give public statements to news reporters and don't talk with the police without talking to your attorney first.

For more information on defending yourself against accusations you've physically or sexually abused a child, talk to an attorney today.

Source: West Bend, "Protecting Yourself from Allegations of Child Abuse," accessed May 25, 2017

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