Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 73–87 | Cite as

The aftermath of nonsubstantiated child abuse allegations in child care centers

  • Judith A. Bordin


With increasing numbers of children in child care, allegations of abuse in those facilities have also increased. Unsubstantiated findings of sexual abuse in child care centers comprise approximately 79% of all allegations. This study surveyed 28 centers in California that experienced an unproven child abuse charge within the last three years. Six administrators also agreed to be interviewed. Significant differences between unfounded and inconclusive findings were discovered when observing the time of investigation, staff attrition rates, type of allegation, investigatory agency rating, and staff support. Qualitative themes included staff helplessness and vulnerability, ethical paradoxes, and policy concerns. Parent and staff relations were also examined. Implications for investigations, policy, and staff training are discussed.


  1. Atten, D.W., & Milner, J.S. (1987). Child abuse potential and work satisfaction in daycare employees.Child Abuse & Neglect, 11(1), 117–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Besharov, D.J. (1991). Child abuse and neglect reporting and investigation: Policy guidelines for decision making.Child and Youth Services, 15(2), 35–50.Google Scholar
  3. Blatt, E. (1990). Staff supervision and the prevention of institutional child abuse and neglect.Journal of Child and Youth Care, 4(6), 73–80.Google Scholar
  4. Brosig, C.L., & Kalichman, S.C. (1992). Clinicians’ reporting of suspected child abuse: A review of the empirical literature.Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bybee, D., & Mowbray, C.T. (1993). Community response to child sexual abuse in day care settings.Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 74(5), 268–281.Google Scholar
  6. Carbino, R. (1992). Policy and practice for response to foster families when child abuse or neglect is reported.Child Welfare, 71(6), 497–509.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Carbino, R. (1991). Child abuse and neglect reports in foster care.Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 233–247.Google Scholar
  8. Contratto, S. (1986). Child abuse and politics of care.Journal of Education, 168(3), 70–79.Google Scholar
  9. de Young, M. (1985). A conceptual model for judging the truthfulness of a young child’s allegation of sexual abuse.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 56(4), 550–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eckenrode, J., Munsch, J., Powers, J., & Doris, J. (1988). The nature and substantiation of official sexual abuse reports.Child Abuse & Neglect, 12, 311–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Everson, M.D., & Boat, B.W. (1989). False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 28, 230–235.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faller, K.C. (1985). Unanticipated problems in the United States child protection system.Child Abuse & Neglect, 9(1), 63–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finkelhor, D., Williams, L.M., & Burns, N. (1988).Nursery crimes: Sexual abuse in day care. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Giovannoni, J.M. (1991). Unsubstantiated reports: Perspectives of child protection workers.Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 51–62.Google Scholar
  15. Glazer, B.G., & Strauss, A.L. (1967).The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  16. onzalez, L.S., Waterman, J., Kelly, R.J., McCord, J., & Oliveri, M.K. (1993). Children’s patterns of disclosures and recantations of sexual and ritualistic abuse allegations in psychotherapy.Child Abuse & Neglect, 17(2), 281–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haldoupoulos, M.A., & Copeland, M.L. (1991). Case studies of child care training volunteers found to be at risk for abuse.Early Child Development and Care, 68, 149–158.Google Scholar
  18. Kelley, S.J., Brant, R., & Waterman, J. (1993). Sexual abuse of children in day care centers.Child Abuse & Neglect, 17, 71–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lanyon, R.I. (1993). Assessment of truthfulness in accusations of child molestation.American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 11(2), 29–44.Google Scholar
  20. Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985).Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Moriarty, A. (1990). Deterring the molester and abuser: Pre-employment testing for child and youth care workers.Child and Youth Care Quarterly, 19(1), 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nixon C., & Hicks, S. (1991). Unfounded allegations of child abuse in the United Kingdom: A survey of foster parents’ reactions to investigative procedures.Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 249–260.Google Scholar
  23. Nunno, M.A., & Motz, J.K. (1988). The development of an effective response to the abuse of children in out-of-home care.Child Abuse & Neglect, 12(4), 521–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pecora, P.J. (1991). Investigating allegations of child maltreatment: The strengths and limitations of current risk assessment systems.Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 73–92.Google Scholar
  25. Robin, M. (1991). The social construction of child abuse and false allegations.Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 1–34.Google Scholar
  26. Russell, S.D., & Clifford, R.M. (1987). Child abuse and neglect in North Carolina day care programs.Child Welfare, 66(2), 149–163.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Strickland, J., & Reynolds, S. (1988, December). The new untouchables: Risk Management of child abuse in child care-policies and procedures.Child Care Information Exchange, 33–36.Google Scholar
  28. Sorenson, T., & Snow, B. (1991). How children tell: The process of disclosure in child sexual abuse.Child Welfare, 70(1), 3–15.Google Scholar
  29. Zellman, G. (1990). Child abuse reporting and failure to report among mandated reporters.Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5(1), 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith A. Bordin
    • 1
  1. 1.Child Development ProgramCalifornia State University at ChicoChico

Personalised recommendations