Over reporting and under reporting of abuse [USA]

April 6, 2004

The Madison Police Department released new information Friday regarding the Audrey Seiler alleged abduction case, indicating its belief that the incident had been falsely reported. While we cannot know what led Audrey to falsely report the abduction, we do know some of the consequences. In addition to the obvious misuse of law enforcement and other resources, false reporting of personal crimes can lead law enforcement and the public to doubt the veracity of all victims of violent, personal crimes. In actuality, according to the two best and largest studies on the subject of false allegations in sexual abuse cases, researchers found that false allegations are rare, concluding that 2 percent to 8 percent of reports are untrue. And although the rate of underreporting of personal crimes is difficult to accurately estimate, it is generally accepted to be over 50 percent. As this story unfolded over the past week in Madison, we were both proud and grateful that law enforcement and the community took the issue very seriously. While many may view it as very costly and time consuming, we might also consider it as valuable training and preparation for community mobilization and investigation that will pay off when the situation is real….

Capital Times


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