By Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
Early in our Medical Kidnap research at Health Impact News, we found that a particular subset of doctors kept coming up in the stories of parents accused of abuse when their children had a medical condition that causes symptoms that mimic abuse.
Doctors known as Child Abuse Pediatricians or Child Abuse Specialists play a central role in the majority of medical kidnapping cases, particularly those involving accusations of Shaken Baby Syndrome, multiple broken bones, and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
We were shocked to learn that parents often lose their children, and are sometimes imprisoned, even placed on death row, due to the testimony of these Child Abuse doctors, while the parents had other medical experts, as many as a dozen, who have asserted that the child was not abused but rather had a medical condition that the Child Abuse doctors refused to acknowledge.
It is common nationwide for judges, social workers, and Child Protective Services attorneys to outright dismiss the stacks of medical evidence that would exonerate parents, instead convicting innocent parents based on the word of one Child Abuse Pediatrician.
Though Child Abuse Pediatricians are not truly “experts” in anything, in practice their word carries more weight in courts than the word of other, more qualified, doctors. (See: Pediatric Child Abuse “Experts” are NOT Experts in Anything). This frequently plays out in the court of public opinion and the media as well.
This did not happen by accident or by happenstance. On the contrary. It appears that this was a well-orchestrated move, with money and power as the driving forces.
As we continue to pull back the curtain on the “great and powerful Oz” of the child abuse physician industry, we have found that there is a calculated effort to silence opposition and to train the media and public to accept their interpretations and conclusions without question.
In a promotional video for Palmetto Health – USC Medical Group in Columbia, South Carolina, Child Abuse Pediatrician Susan B. Luberoff, MD, shines some light on how her group of doctors sees their role.
She says that the “most fun part” of her job is working with everyday people to “interpret” information for them:
A big part of my job is INTERPRETING information for people that are not medical, interpreting medical information for law enforcement officers, for DSS [Child Protective Services in South Carolina] caseworkers, for teachers, for other people that have a concern, and they’re being barraged with a lot of big words that they don’t understand, and maybe can misunderstand, and go down the wrong path.
Listen to her speak here:
The Helfer Society Wants to Educate Media
Many of the Child Abuse Pediatricians who play a role in Medical Kidnap stories are a part of the Ray E. Helfer Society, which is an elite group of doctors in the child abuse field.
According to the Helfer Society’s website, one of their goals is to educate the media and the “lay public” as they testify against parents whom they have accused of child abuse.
In the section on “Public Relations and Media Literacy Training,” they write:
Child abuse physicians have always talked to the lay public. Testimony to judges and juries is a regular part of CAP practice, and physicians have been called upon to talk to the press about high profile cases and prevention agendas.
There are many doctors, including top medical experts in their respective fields, who disagree with the conclusions of the Child Abuse Pediatricians.
The Helfer Society actively seeks to discredit these doctors who dispute their interpretations of the data.
See some of our coverage on Dr. Waney Squire, who disagrees with the junk science of Shaken Baby Syndrome, something frequently diagnosed by Child Abuse Pediatricians even when there are other medical explanations:
Pediatric Neuropathologist on Failed Science Behind Shaken Baby Syndrome: Doctors Value Their Careers More than the Truth
As long as the fields of medicine and science have existed, there has always been disagreement. There has always been the courageous doctor, scientist, or explorer who challenges the status quo and takes the field into new frontiers and discoveries.
Science is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and ever-growing. The brilliant mind who reaches deeper and further is celebrated in hindsight, but is often mocked and ridiculed by those whose ideas he challenges.
It appears that the Helfer Society is more interested in asserting their superiority where child abuse is involved, and they seek to squelch opposition by other doctors, as well as those in “the legal community and lay press.”
The website narrative continues:
Arguably this job [of talking to the lay public and press] has gotten both harder, and more important in the last ten years.
A number of physicians have shown up regularly in court to put forth opposing and often novel theories for individual children’s injuries. Some of these same physicians have been creating a body of medical literature challenging the foundation of child abuse diagnosis, much of it novel hypothetical and poorly [sic – It is unclear what word they left out, whether “conducted,” “written,” or “accepted by the Helfer Society members.”]
Armed with this literature, these physicians have developed alliances within the legal community and lay press to bring these arguments to legal journals and lay media. The Tuerkheimer law review article and the PBS/Pro Publica television segment are two well known examples.
Child Abuse Pediatricians who are Helfer Society members are not happy about it.
Recent media representations of child abuse issues have been hot topics on the Helfer list-serve, and instill passion and calls to action, as well as anger and sometimes disgust among members.
It is clear that it is important to the Helfer society members to maintain their reputation and power with the legislature, as well as their funding. When their dictates are challenged by other doctors, alternative media, and you – the public, these core values of the society are jeopardized.
The importance of educating our members on interacting with the media ripples into every part of our profession: for our profession’s standing in the public eye; for our advocacy with government legislature and funding agencies; for education of the public and other key stakeholders; and for the protection of children in general.
There have been thousands of parents who have been accused of abuse when there is abundant evidence that there was something else going on, as courts all across the country are overturning child abuse convictions when opposing medical testimony was not present. Yet, families have been destroyed by the testimony of one of these Child Abuse Doctors.
More on the Helfer Society Agenda
The president of the Helfer Society, Dr. Christopher Greeley, is the head of the Texas Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Team. He also heads up the Public Relations Committee for the Helfer Society.
According to the website, the purpose of the the committee seems to be directly related to anticipating and responding to those doctors and journalists who don’t accept their conclusions.
They want to BE the voice that the media and the public listens to, no matter how much opposition there may be:
Purpose: To discuss and generate the Helfer Society’s public responses to current and anticipated controversies and debates which occur in the field of Child Abuse Pediatrics.
Scope: The scope of the committee includes issues affecting our professional practice, the research and science in our field of practice and public policy affecting families and children.
The primary aim of the committee is to provide the Helfer Society a mechanism for a public voice on issues which affect the field of Child Abuse Pediatrics.
- To provide a vehicle for the Helfer Society to generate public comments on issues in the media.
- To provide the Helfer Society a vehicle for publically addressing challenging scientific, policy and professional issues concerning Child Abuse Pediatrics.
- To provide a mechanism for Society members to engage in the public policy and media arena as part of their clinical practice. This committee would provide resources or policy recommendations as directed by the committee chair or Society president.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
The Helfer Society alluded to “the Tuerkheimer law review article,” which is likely this article: “The Next Innocence Project: Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Criminal Courts,” by law professor and former district attorney Deborah Tuerkheimer, who has written a great deal challenging the junk science behind Shaken Baby Syndrome.
She has authored a book entitled, Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice, and her work is featured in the documentary, The Syndrome Film.
When The Syndrome Film was released and scheduled for various film festivals around the country, supporters of Child Abuse Doctors actively opposed the film and tried to prevent it from reaching the public. See:
The objective of the Helfer Society is to rebut stories like the one featured in this film, no matter how many experts dispute the narrative promoted by Child Abuse Pediatricians. Their aim is to influence media to, in turn, influence the public mindset, or groupthink.
If the society has their way, how many more innocent parents will be falsely accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome, or other child abuse that never happened?
Policies Serve to Endanger, Not Protect, Children
There are many medical experts whose work we have covered at Health Impact News who challenge the conclusions of the branch of medicine known as Child Abuse Pediatrics.
Due to the efforts of those who wish to silence them, good doctors who stand true to their Hippocratic oath and the principles of scientific research have been attacked, and careers destroyed.
As a result of the unquestioned dogma of Child Abuse Pediatricians, many children are not protected from abuse. Instead, many children are placed by Child Protective Services into situations that prove to be far more dangerous than any that they left.
According to many federal databases, they are at least 6 times more likely to be raped, molested, abused, or killed in foster care than they are in their own families, and those numbers may well be much higher.
Other children who have serious or complex medical conditions are left to languish in hospital beds all over America, for months or even years, without the benefit of their parents’ advocacy for their best interests. They lay in lonely wards, away from everyone who loves them, while their mothers are accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or Medical Child Abuse.
Media stands positioned to question the abuses of the Child Protective system and to provide “the other side” to the interpretations espoused by Child Abuse Pediatricians, unless they are “educated” to disregard the voices who challenge those interpretations.
It appears that this education of media by the Helfer Society is little more than cleverly-disguised marketing of the product of their agenda. Such does not befit the mission of true journalism.
See more on Child Abuse Pediatricians:
American Academy of Pediatrics’ Failing Shaken Baby Syndrome Diagnoses: Use Tyranny When Science Fails
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