Letter: Accused of abuse

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Sir: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is mistaken if she thinks false accusations of child abuse are justified in the course of safeguarding the nation's children ("Why do we still ignore the screams of abused children?" ,8 January). A false accusation of child abuse cannot protect children any more than a wrong diagnosis protects patients, or a miscarriage of justice protects murder victims.

False allegations are detrimental both to the children involved and the genuinely abused, whose plight may be overlooked because of the readiness to "cry wolf". Justified concern should always be a basis for inquiry, but the utmost care should be taken to avoid jumping to conclusions on the word of an accuser since allegations of child abuse are easy to make and hard to refute.

What it comes down to is the reliance we place on the professionals and institutions entrusted with identifying child abuse. No amount of vigilance will compensate for poor judgement.



The British False Memory Society

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire