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November 9, 2006

Social Worker Admits Lack of Fourth Amendment Training

A social worker from Howell, Michigan, contacted a Home School Legal Defense Association member family after receiving allegations regarding the family’s 15-year-old son.

The social worker received a tip that the 15-year-old wore the same clothes for two weeks and had scratches on his wrists. He told HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka that he feared the 15-year-old was suicidal.

However, the family explained that these accusations were ridiculous. The son did often wear the same clothes when he went out—he had his favorites and washed them so that he could rewear them, just like a typical teenager. As for the scratches, they came from rabbit cages; the family keeps rabbits on their farm and when working with the rabbits, the son would get scratches from the cages. The scratches—not slashes—were minor accidents, not signs of suicidal distress.

Nonetheless, the social worker insisted he had to enter the family’s home and interview the son.

Attorney Klicka firmly told him that the family declined his request. Klicka explained that last year he had helped pass a law through the Michigan legislature which requires all social workers to be trained in their duty to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of families—this includes the Fourth Amendment.

When Klicka asked if he received that important training, the social worker sheepishly admitted, “No I have not—but I am going to make sure I do!“ Klicka said, “I thought so, because if you had been properly trained you would understand why the family stood on their Fourth Amendment rights and said no to you coming in and interviewing the son.”

The social worker then admitted he had talked with the prosecutor who said, “There is no evidence for a case here.”

Afterward, the family sent references to the social worker, explaining that the son is well cared for and that his scratches came from rabbit cages. That, along with a letter from Klicka, has impeded any further visits from the social worker.

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