Ontario, Canada mother, Melissa Lopez, took her daughter, age 10, to what should have been a rather routine dentist visit, but turned into anything but.
The dentist determined that Lopez’s daughter had a large number of cavities. The dentist told Lopez to schedule a new appointment to have her daughter’s fillings accomplished.
However, mom wasn’t so sure about the original diagnosis, so she scheduled a second opinion with another dentist. Because Lopez went for a second opinion with another dentist, the original dentist reported Lopez to CPS for abuse under the term, “oral neglect.”
Authorities determined that the report was unsubstantiated and that Lopez is not an abusive mother for getting a second opinion. However, even though the case was closed by CPS, the system is, well, the system.
According to the CBC:
[T]he file, Lopez claims she was told, is permanent.
“It will always be there, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” she said. “I’m red-flagged, I’ve been marked, and there’s no reason for this to have happened.”
CPS claims they have to keep the records on file but have listed them as invalid.
And this is the big flaw in the sytem (not that there aren’t a great many, but this one really stinks). Parents in Canada must petition the courts to have reports like the one Lopez had filed against her removed from record.
Andrea Maenza, communications co-ordinator for the Durham Children’s Aid Society, said that [its] protocol is mandated by the Child and Family Services Act…. [She] stressed that there aren’t necessarily negative implications from having a permanent case file, since all the information about the interaction is included, including why it was closed.
“An individual can ask for a copy of their record to know exactly what it says,” she added.
“Negative consequences,” are, unfortunately, a subjective consequence. Nothing would stop an attorney in a parental custody battle from using it as evidence unless a judge decided to dismiss the evidence. And what does being red flagged by such a system entail? What if a second false claim is filed (intentional with knowledge of the first claim, or not)?
Let’s make this situation a little worse if that were at all possible. CPS claims the original dentist did the right thing by reporting the potential abuse. But what the dentist essentially did was ruin a parents name and create a stressful environment for an innocent child. Maybe the dentist license should be given a second look? CPS, of course, doesn’t want to serve up any potential deterrents for a dentist to report findings, hence why they are making this particular dentist out to be a good citizen.
Unfortunately for the family, they are the real losers in a system that seemingly doesn’t work for them. If there were some sort of recourse or automatic removal for the parents, the situation could be a whole lot improved. The case file should be dismissed from the system and the parent should be 100% vindicated, name cleared. But Canadian CPS claims it is for “accountability purposes” that they keep the record on file.
“I would absolutely love it if they would just remove that file for me, because I don’t feel there was any just reason to report me in the first place,” Lopez said.
It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?