REPORT TO FRIENDS--July 27, 2000

Virginia's 'Minimum Standards' reaches for a new, lower minimum

Letter from Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) to the Child Welfare Licensing Unit, Division of Licensing Programs, Virginia Department of Social Service

July 27, 2000

Doris Jenkins, Manager, Child Welfare Licensing Unit Division of Licensing Programs
Virginia Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Ms. Jenkins,

We are in receipt of a copy of "The Minimum Standards for Licensed Child-Placing Agencies," sent to us by Mr. Claude A. Allen, Secretary of Health and Human Services, in his correspondence of July 20, 2000.

While this proposed change in policy contains several points which are of grave concern to us, the purpose of this letter is to seek clarification on one point only--harsh shaking--which the revised standard would forbid.

Because only "harsh" shaking, as opposed to any other kind of shaking, would be proscribed, we assume that the drafters had in mind certain criteria that differentiate harsh from not harsh. Would you please share those criteria with us, so that we can share them with others by means of our Web site, Project NoSpank. Many caretakers, and others in child-related fields, come to the site for precisely for that kind of information. Moreover, the information will be invaluable to foster parents and prospective foster parents in Virginia. Since you propose to allow a certain level of shaking, we believe you are duty bound to inform them about the risks of shaken baby syndrome. It would be grossly unfair to foster parents (as well as potentially disastrous for infants and children) if you advise them that they may shake their charges, but fail to give them precise guidelines for the correct way of doing it.

Additionally, your proposed policy change has serious legal ramifications. It will in effect be creating a ready-made legal defense for anyone who shakes a child even to the point of causing blindness, spinal cord injury, brain damage or death. A mere lay person could not reasonably be expected to know what constitutes acceptable shaking if the Division of Licensing Programs, Virginia Department of Social Services doesn't know, or if it knows but doesn't disseminate the information. In these circumstances, prosecutors would be reluctant to prosecute any but the most blatant violators, and most child injuries as a result of shaking would be dismissed as unfortunate accidents. In fact, the children themselves could be implicated for having been accident prone, soft-boned, easy bruisers or having had some other mysterious defect or weakness. Thus, adult perpetrators would be largly, if not wholly, exonerated. That's how violence against children was handled traditionally, and continues to be handled in culturally backward places. We trust it is not the intention of the Department of Social Services to reestablish that tradition in Virginia.

In addition to posting this correspondence on Project NoSpank (, we will circulate it to the physicians listed below, all of whom specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of victims of child abuse, and will be keenly interested in developments in Virginia.

Thank you for your kind attention.


Jordan Riak,
Executive Director

cc: Claude A. Allen

cc: (physicians)

Mia Amaya, M.D., M.P.H.
University of Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama

Kirsten Bechtel, M.D.
St. Christopher's Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Steven D. Blatt, M.D.
SUNY, Syracuse Health Science Center
Syracuse, NY

Ann S. Botash, M.D.
Syracuse University Health Care Center
Syracuse, NY

David L. Chadwick, M.D.
Children's Hospital and Health Center
San Diego, CA

Cindy Christian, M.D.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

Daniel L. Coury, M.D.
Children's Hospital
Columbus, OH

Michael D. DeBellis, M.D
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Pittsburgh, PA

John de Triquet, M.D.
Children's Hospital
Norfolk, VA

Howard Dubowitz, M.D.
University of Maryland
Baltimore, MD

Kenneth W. Feldman, M.D.
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Emalee G. Flaherty, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL

Martin A. Finkel, D.O.
Univ. Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
Camden, NJ

Gilles Fortin M.D
Chief of Clinique de Pediatrie Socio-Juridique
Hopital Sainte-Justine
Montreal, Qubec, Canada

Lori Frasier, M.D.
University of Missouri Hospitals & Clinics
Columbia, M.O.

Lorraine Gari, M.D.
Wolfson Children's Hospital
Jacksonville, FL

Jill Glick, M.D.
University of Chicago Children's Hospital
Chicago, IL

Penny Grant, M.D.
Broward County Child Protection team
Fort Lauderdale Florida

Lorraine Gari M.D.
Wolfson Childrens Hospital
Jacksonville, FL

Scott Halpert, M.D.
Lane County Child Advocacy Center
Eugene, OR

Ralph A. Hicks, M.D.
The Children's Medical Center
Dayton, Ohio

Dirk Huyer, M.D.
Hospital for Sick Children,
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Carol Jenny, M.D.
Hasbro Children's Hospital
Providence, RI

Mark Joffe, M.D.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

Steven W. Kairys, M.D, M.P.H.
Dartmouth Medical School
Lebanon, NH

Karen M. Kaplan, M.D.
Penn State Geisenger Health System
Hershey, PA

Robert H. Kirschner, M.D.
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL

Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H.
Swedish Family Medicine
Seattle, WA

Henry Krous, M.D.
Children's Hospital-San Diego
San Diego, CA

Alex V. Levin, M.D
Hospital for Sick Children,
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

John McCann, M.D.
University of California,
Davis Medical Center
Sacramento, CA

Marcellina Mian, M.D.
Hospital for Sick Children,
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Kieran Moran, M.D.
Sydney Children's Hospital
Sydney, Australia

Lucy M. Osborn, M.D., M.S.P.H.
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Salt Lake City, UT

Vincent Palucci, M.D.
DeVos Children's Hospital
Grand Rapids, MI

Robert M. Reece, M.D.
Institute for Professional Education, MSPCC
Boston, MA

Lawrence R. Ricci, M.D.
The Spurwink Child Abuse Program
Portland, ME

Des Runyan, M.D., Dr.P.H.
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC

Michael Ryan, M.D.
The New Children's Hospital
Sydney, Australia

Matthew D. Sadof, M.D.
General Pediatrician
Temple University Health System
Philadelphia, PA

Matthew D. Sadof, M.D.
Temple University Health System
Philadelphia, PA

Robert Sege, M.D., Ph.D.
The Floating Hospital
Boston, MA

Benjamin Siegel, M.D.
Boston Medical Center
Boston, MA

Robert A. Shapiro, M.D.
Children's Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati, OH

Suzanne P. Starling, M.D.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN

Carol Stashwick, M.D. ,Ph.D.
Children's Hospital at Dartmouth
Lebanon, NH

John Stirling, M.D.
Clark County Child Abuse Intervention Center
Vancouver, WA

David Turkewitz, M.D.
York Hospital
York, PA

J.M. Whitworth, M.D.
Children's Crisis Center
Jacksonville, FL

Document sent to PTAVE by Claud A. Allen, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Virginia, July 20, 2000

The Minimum Standards for Licensed Child-Placing Agencies

The Minimum Standards for Licensed Child-Placing Agencies regulation was published in The Virginia Register on July 17, 2000. Public comments may be received from that date through September 16, 2000. Please send your comments to me via e-mail or through interoffice or regular mail to the DSS, 730 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. You may request a hard copy of the regulation from me or find it on the Internet at http://legis. (The Virginia Register) or Virginia Register is also available at public libraries.

The proposed changes regarding corporal punishment and discipline are:

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know your questions or comments.

Thank you,

Doris Jenkins, Manager, Child Welfare Licensing Unit
Division of Licensing Programs
Va. Department of Social Services

See Backsliding Virginia, Report to Friends, July 1, 2000.
Please forward this page to friends, colleagues and others who care about the rights of children.
For index/links to all messages, go to Reports to Friends

Why does Project NoSpank deserve your support?
Please include me in Project NoSpank's mailings.
Please remove me from Project NoSpank's mailings.

Return to Table of Contents.