To Investigate or Not?

It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for either a court order, parental consent, warrant, probable cause or exigent circumstances in order to investigate a child abuse matter. However, there are two sides to every case and each usually has equally prevalent concerns. Considering the impact and emotional burden a child abuse investigation has on a child, leaves one to believe that the prerequisites are a strict necessity. But knowing the protracted speed of the criminal court system, and how that impacts the amount of time the possible abuse continues, would make a person reconsider whether it seems reasonable to require one of the prerequisites or not.

S.G. was a nine-year-old girl on February 24th, 2003, when she was seized and interrogated in school by government officials in order to be investigated for child abuse. S.G. was taken from her classroom by state caseworkers and investigative agents, one of which was armed, and questioned for two hours about her father’s possible abusive behavior. S.G. and her sister were put into foster care for two weeks while the investigation took place, and had to undergo investigation after investigation as well as medical examinations to determine if their was any abuse.

One of the issues from S.G’s case, currently before the Supreme court, is whether a child protective services worker meets the fourth amendment “search and seizure” burden requiring probable cause when interviewing a potential child abuse victim in school, or whether the a burden is lowered to one that of reasonable suspicion (see Jersey v.<Read More>