Thursday, November 3, 2011

Internet Stalkers and Child Welfare Investigations

Long time readers will remember that I shut my first blog down twice.  I made it private while we were involved in the year-long battle to keep Danielle, and I shut it down for good the summer before last, because Internet stalkers banded together and made a false child welfare report against my wife and me.

And now, I read about a similar thing happening to someone else.

For quite some time, I've been following Michael Schofield over at Jani's Journey.  On his blog, he writes about his daughter Jani, who suffers from severe mental illness.

I was absolutely floored when I read his post from yesterday where he wrote the following:

Since our story became public over two years ago, DCFS has received two claims about us…. from people who have never met any of us. There only knowledge of us comes from what they have seen on TV and/or what they have read on my blog.

Nonetheless, DCFS is obligated under law to investigate any claim, regardless of whether the claimant actually has met the family or children.

In this case, as soon as we heard the claim, we knew exactly who it was. We know because the language of the claim came directly from a conversation with one of our regular critics on Facebook, a woman by the name of Jen B (I will refrain from using her full name because then I would be no better than her). Jen B is the same person who uses the handle “WarriorMom” on the Amazon discussion page about my book, who has posted somewhere in the vicinity of 400 posts accusing me of abusing Jani, doing everything from taking my blog posts out of context to outright lies.

He went on to say more:

DCFS is concerned because Jen WarriorMom is not your average critic. She is a full on internet stalker. She invaded my private Facebook page under a false identity (causing me to shut it down). But what really scares the shit out me is this woman is hell bent on destroying my family. That’s not hyperbole. She wants Jani and Bodhi removed from our care and placed in foster care. She even has a website set up to this effect, arranging a network to “follow” Jani and Bodhi once they are removed from our care (apparently forgetting that privacy laws would prevent her from doing so). This woman is so convinced that I am evil that she wants my kids taken away from me.

This woman hates me more than my ex-girlfriends.

I am...shocked.

What Michael describes in his post is eerily similar to what happened to us during the summer of 2010.  We learned that a private online community had been created for the express purpose of discussing us, our family, and any details people could scrape off the Internet about us.  The group elected a single representative to make contact with our local child welfare authorities for the express purpose of making a report.

Interestingly enough, not a single person from that community had ever met us.  They decided, based on what I'd written in my blog, that we were emotionally, physically and sexually abusing our child.

The solution to the problem suggested by our social worker is the same as what has been suggested to Michael Schofield.  We were told to stop writing about our family and our child on the Internet.  Of course the abuse allegations were ruled to be unfounded, as we weren't abusing our kid, but the whole experience was pretty scary.  I went on hiatus for several months, and came back with this blog, though I share a lot less than what I did on my original.

Now I should probably point out that I don't personally know Michael Schofield.  I have never met the man, nor do I have any kind of online relationship with him.  I just find it rather creepy that someone I don't know has had nearly the same experience that we did.

It disgusts me to realize that there are people out there in the world who think it is their job to make false reports to DCFS against people they don't even know.

What a sick, sick world we live in.


  1. Parents have the same kinds of complaints whether or not it stems from something that happened online, or a vindictive neighbor, or vindictive ex, or a self-righteous hypocrite teacher out there.

  2. It's always sad when others who don't agree with your lifestyle or don't agree with how you are raising a child will go to great lengths to make you, your family and your child suffer. While they think in their mind they are "doing the right thing on behalf of the child" they are really only thinking about their views and their ways of life.

    No one can fully understand what it's like in your home on a daily basis unless they are physically with you 24/7 to witness what you go through. And even if I don't agree with how you are raising your child, it doesn't give me the right to call DHS/DCF on you.

  3. These people apparently feel that the government is better at raising your children than you are. Hmmmm...I wonder how they would feel if cps showed up at their door? I described it to a non-adoptive/foster mom (very close friend with four "normal" children) this way..."You work your ass off 24/7 to make sure ALL of your children's needs are met. You work harder than any other mom you know making sure everyone gets quality and quantity time. You make a point to keep in close contact with teachers, bus drivers, therapists, etc. You spend every single waking moment either dealing with your kids hands on, or researching things that may help them, driving them to professionals to keep appts. for testing and tutoring and everything else under the sun - in addition to all of your other demands of family, work and home management. You do nothing for yourself because there are simply not enough hours in the day to waste on YOU when you have so many needy kids around you. Then, one day, someone knocks on your door and essentially tells you that you are not enough. You are not doing enough, not doing things correctly, should be doing this instead of that, etc. and it devastates you. They do their investigation and say, "ok then, see ya next time!" as if it's just a little hiccup in your life. It isn't. It's HUGE and you're left shaking and stunned that someone in your life - somewhere, at some time interpreted something that they thought was so horrible they thought you should lose your children over it. It is unconscionable that we live in a world where a knock on the door can ruin our lives.

  4. I just have to respond to LK's comment... yes, while I agree that false reporting by vindictive, malicious people that don't know you or your children is a nightmare, teachers are mandated reporters.

    I believe Fosters just covered this in a recent post. So unlike the neighbor, or the ex, teachers MUST report any accusations or perceived signs of abuse. Not only are we morally responsible for these children, but legally as well. Teachers can (and have been) fired, state license revoked, and prosecuted for lack of exercising their duty as mandated reporters. I have been told, unequivocally, year in and year out, "It is not your job to establish the validity of any claim. It is only your duty to report. You must report." I have called. I must. At that point, it isn't my job or my business as to whether or not it's true.

    If I get a claim from a child, or see a clear physical sign or behavior (such as highly-sexualized, age-inappropriate behavior), I report. For the child, and to "CYA," as they say.


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