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Analyzing Different Child Abuse Evaluation Methods
You have three points of analysis of one abuse case: the abuser's self-report, the forensic psychologist's evaluation, and a video of an actual instance of abuse.
After reading the documents, what were your assumptions about the case and the father?
How did those assumptions change after watching the video?
Considering all the evidence you've watched and read, what conclusions can you draw about the usefulness of self-reporting in parental evaluations?
After reading just the abuser's self-report and the forensic psychologist's evaluation I was under the assumption that the father was the only abuser in the household. I believed that the father was abusing the mother as well because the mother’s self-report made it appear it that she genuinely cared for children, but had been abused during her childhood. This made me believe that she had fallen in with Joey because of her own childhood and that she perhaps afraid to take the children and leave him.
The video was extremely difficult to watch, but it did successfully change my entire view on the case. Before the video I saw the children and the mother as victims and the father as an abuser. After the video I saw that the only true victims in this case where the children and the mother and father were both equal partners in their abuse of their children. After reading and watching the abuser's self-report, the forensic psychologist's evaluation, and a video of an actual instance of abuse I agree with the statement from the forensic psychologist's evaluation about how the sentence completion series only indicates a parent’s ability to articulate parenting concepts. In the self-reports both parents clearly demonstrated that they had knowledge on the correct ways to parent children. Yet in the video it was shown that neither parent uses any of what they claimed to know in the self-reports with regard to their real life parenting. It was evident in the video that the self-reports cannot be taken at face value. This leads me to the conclusion that self-reporting in parental evaluations has very little usefulness and no real value. However I could see the reports being useful in court proceedings as they could be used to prove that the abusers do know how they should be parenting their children and yet willingly fail to do so.
Barter, W.M. (2008, May 12). Psychological Report.
Brown, L.H., & Unger, M.A. (2008, February 4). Stepfather’s Parenting Sentence Completion Series.
Costanzo, M., & Krauss, D. (2012). Forensic and legal psychology: Psychological science applied to law. New York, NY: Worth.
Name: Joey Esmond
Date of Birth: January 15, 1973
Record No: 0123456
Evaluation Dates: February 04, 2008; March 11, 2008
Report Date: May 12, 2008
Evaluation Methods: Wide Range Achievement Test, third edition, reading subtest (WRAT3); Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, second edition (K-BIT2); Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2); Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III); Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-3); Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP-I); Parenting Stress Index (PSI); client interview; Parenting Sentence Completion Series; record review; parent/child interaction observation session
Examiner: William M. Barter, Ph.D., Program Psychologist
Background: Mr. Esmond was referred to Spurwink for an evaluation of his parenting relative to the placement of his infant son, Garvey; his stepson, Matty; and his three older boys, Caleb, Danny, and Kris. At the time of referral from DHHS, a DVD was provided by the Department showing Mr. Esmond being physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to his wife’s son, Matty Mondor. There have been ongoing concerns about Mr. Esmond’s inappropriate and antisocial behavior and his overall ability to be a safe parent.
Asked for his view of the referral, Mr. Esmond stated that he was being referred for an evaluation because he and his wife did not understand how to deal with his stepson, Matty. He stated that he wants to find out what his parenting skills are because the State of Maine disagrees with him about parenting. He then stated that everybody learns in life. He said that since foster placement Matty has been 100% more well-behaved, articulate, and has few fits of yelling. He said that maltreatment concerns were based on how he and his wife were dealing with Matty’s behaviors and the way he was acting. He then stated that Matty has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He stated that it was hard to know how to discipline him. He stated that he is currently living with his wife in an apartment in Sanford where no children are currently living. He stated that Matty is in a foster home, as is his infant son. He stated that they have supervised visits and he reiterated that Matty’s behaviors have changed a great deal.
Evaluation Objectives: The current evaluation is intended a) to assess Mr. Esmond in terms of his current psychological and emotional functioning, b) to assess his relative strengths and weaknesses functioning as a parent, c) to assess for the presence of parental psychological,social, emotional or behavioral factors that might place children at risk of maltreatment or neglect while in his care, and d) to assess his capacity to function as a predictable, empathic, emotionally available attachment figure to his children.
Informed Consent: Informed consent for services at Spurwink was obtained from Mr. Esmond to proceed with the evaluation. He affirmed understanding that the purpose of the evaluation was to assess current psychological and emotional functioning as well as current parenting competencies and risk factors for child abuse. He affirmed that he understood the non-confidential nature of the evaluation and the fact that a copy of the final report will be forwarded to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. He further affirmed understanding that the program staff might be called upon to testify on the content of the evaluation in court. He affirmed understanding the risks and benefits of undergoing such an evaluation. Mr. Esmond was afforded the opportunity to ask questions about the evaluation process at any step along the way.
Record Review: As part of the evaluation, records were provided by DHHS. Among the records were police logs noting a couple of instances in which Mr. Esmond was involved in altercations, including an assault on his wife and an assault on her child, Matty. The records indicate Mr. Esmond’ inappropriate behavior in dealing with police officers and with family issues.
In the DVD, Mr. Esmond is witnessed entering his stepson’s bedroom and threatening him with hot sauce, later on bringing hot sauce into the room and threatening him with it. He is also witnessed grabbing Matty by the sides of the face, slapping him, and speaking to him in a threatening and sadistic voice. He was also witnessed using foul and abusive language toward the child. At one point on the DVD he asks Matty if he remembers the hot sauce and how it burned his mouth, and this is suggestive of the past use of hot sauce as a method of punishment. The behavior witnessed on the DVD would be considered abusive and traumatizing by even the most conservative standards.
Personal History: Mr. Esmond stated that he was born in Buffalo, New York and that he is the son of Kevin Esmond and Ann (Hawks) Esmond. He said that his parents were married and then divorced and subsequently reconciled. According to him, he has three siblings and one stepsibling and he is the second oldest. Regarding socioeconomic status, Mr. Esmond stated that the family went from poor to middle class to poor. He recalled that his father was an appliance technician and that his mother worked in fast food restaurants. He stated that his mother currently works in quality control. He described his family as dysfunctional and said that he fought with his older brother. He also stated that he has problems with his younger brother and sister. He said that, while living in New York state, he was brought up Roman Catholic. He said that he belonged to a Boy Scout troop when he was a child. He then said that, at the end of second or third grade, the family moved to New Hampshire. According to him, between the ages of 10 and 11, he began having problems that included setting fires, fighting, and being kicked out of school. He also stated that things were worse for him in New Hampshire because he was picked on.
Asked about child abuse, Mr. Esmond stated that he was physically abused, emotionally abused, and verbally abused. He stated that he was spanked and that his parents used hot sauce to punish him, as well as making him sit in the corner. He said that as a younger child he was hit with a belt. He also stated that throughout his life he has had fistfights with his father. He described
himself as a problem child who caught the brunt of discipline in the family. He stated that it only made him stronger. He stated that the physical abuse mainly came from his father and that his mother would generally ground him. Regarding domestic violence, he stated that throughout the years he witnessed domestic violence and he once saw his mother get her head “busted open”. He also recalled that at one time his mother put sleeping pills in his father’s food to knock him out.
Asked about his significant relationships, Mr. Esmond stated that his first relationship was with a girl named Mindy whom he dated for six months in high school. He also stated that subsequently he dated a girl named Deanna and they went out for one year in high school before he was placed in a group home for 11 months for stealing a car. He said that there were a variety of flings until he met Bethany Wahler at the age of 21. He stated that they were never married and that their relationship was off and on for five years. According to him, he did everything to make Bethany happy and had two boys with her. He said, at the time of this evaluation, that the boys were in his parent’s custody because Bethany filed to give them custody. He stated that they broke up because she was very abusive, mistreated the children, laid on the couch all day long, and was constantly “on his case” and abusive. He recalled a time when she threw a six-month-old child on the bed and yelled at him (Mr. Esmond) in front of the child.
Mr. Esmond stated that his next relationship was with Suzanne, the mother of his four-year-old. He stated that that child is with his mother and there are no visitation rights currently because of the allegations being made by his parents. He stated that it was a two-year relationship and they moved into his parent’s home because they could not afford an apartment. He stated that there was a lot of stress from his parents and his parents were abusive to Suzanne. He stated that he then was with a woman named Lela for one year, but they had personal differences and she was promiscuous.
He stated that his current wife, Mariah, used to talk with him on the computer and they went out for eight days before they were married. He stated that they were married in August 2006. According to him, the marriage was good at the beginning and then became rocky and they split up for two to three months, but are back together. He stated that she has had a restraining order on him twice and dropped it twice. He said that the allegation was felony assault against Matty. According to Mr. Esmond, he gave Matty a “light tap” to his mouth, but Mariah said that he slapped him. He stated that the police said he “assaulted the kid”, but he “left no marks” so it could not have been an assault. He stated that he got a letter stating that they were not going to charge him in December 2007.
Asked about domestic violence in his relationships, Mr. Esmond stated that Bethany filed an allegation of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. He stated that Suzanne used Bethany’s allegations to accuse him, but the Guardian ad Litem sided with him. He stated that the same allegations are coming from his parents now, but a DHHS worker in New Hampshire is looking for records to show that he did not do it. He stated that the allegations of violence are a “he said, she said” situation and that he is being seen as guilty until proven innocent. He stated that, until recently, he still had his children, so he could not have been doing anything totally wrong. Asked about his educational history, Mr. Esmond stated that he was in a group home in Massachusetts and went through the eleventh grade. He stated that he should have had enough credits to graduate, but did not. He stated that night school did not work out for him. He stated
that it was not his forte to sit in a classroom for three hours. He said that he might get his GED, but he does not need it for his work. According to him, his grades “sucked” through life and that he had attention deficit problems that were never diagnosed.
Asked about his work history, Mr. Esmond stated that he has worked in construction since the age of 18. He stated that he is a subcontractor for one company and that he builds houses from start to finish. He stated that he is a good worker with good references, and he has never been fired from a job. He stated that he has always quit when he has wanted to move on to better jobs. Mr. Esmond stated that he has never served in the military. According to him, his financial support currently comes from his self-employment and he has no health insurance, no entitlements, and a rented home. Asked to describe his hobbies, Mr. Esmond stated that he plays on the computer, listens to music, and plays cards.
Asked about his medical history, Mr. Esmond stated that he had slight scoliosis at birth, as well as attention deficit. He stated that he has chronic back pain. Asked to list his medications, he stated that he takes no more medications. He then added that he is not a “happy camper” because he deals with a lot of pain.
Mr. Esmond denied any history of psychiatric hospitalization. He stated that he was diagnosed with Depression at Counseling Services, Inc., but no suicidality has been documented. Asked about self-harm, he stated that he has a high pain tolerance and so he used to hit street signs when he was frustrated. Asked about family psychiatric history, he stated that his father and his younger brother have taken Lexapro.
Asked about outpatient treatment, Mr. Esmond stated that, when he was 15 or 16 years old, he had counseling for Attention Deficit Disorder. He stated that he has recently had an intake at Counseling Services, Inc. and that he is going back to see about a diagnosis. Asked about parenting support groups or classes, Mr. Esmond stated that, when he had custody of the children, he went through the Kids First program twice. He stated that the judge made him do it twice.
Asked about substance use or abuse, Mr. Esmond stated that he used to be a heavy drinker and marijuana smoker. He stated that he smoked a lot of marijuana between the ages of 16 and 17 and that he began using alcohol after the age of 18. He then stated that he hardly drinks at all. He also stated that he does not currently go out of his way to smoke marijuana. He stated that he does not do anything much at all now in terms of substance abuse. He did state that he smokes one pack of cigarettes per day.
Asked about criminal history, Mr. Esmond stated that he has been arrested five times and he has had a lot of police holds, especially in his early twenties. He stated that he has had three charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, with the most recent being in July 2007. He also stated that he was charged with the assault on Matty. He stated that he was arrested with his wife when they were both arrested for simple assault and they plead to being mutual combatants. He stated that he is currently not on probation, but he was on probation as a teenager. According to him, the maximum time he has spent in jail is two to three days at a time. He stated that he currently has no driver’s license because of the driving while intoxicated charges.
Asked to describe his social supports, Mr. Esmond stated that his wife is his social support. He stated that he used to have a best friend, but he does not like his wife. He stated that this friend was a support for a long time.
Asked if he had anything else to add to the evaluation, Mr. Esmond stated that his children have been brainwashed because they like where they are placed. He said that they do not have anything to do with him and do not talk to him.
Mr. Esmond was asked specifically about the DVD showing his abuse of Matty. He stated that the DVD refers to abuse and shows spanking and threatening. He stated, however, that people did not know the circumstances of the household. He said that they were constantly being watched. He also stated that his (Mr. Esmond’) mother made Matty sit in dirty underwear and put him in the shower. He stated that his father cannot deal with children and he is on complete disability. He stated that, although his father is on disability, he takes the children out on four wheelers and drinks and drives. He stated that, at the time of this evaluation, his two older boys were with his father. He stated that he and his wife have let the DHHS worker know not to allow the infant, Garvey, to have contact with his paternal grandparents. Asked about his relationship with his parents, Mr. Esmond stated that he would not be upset if his parents “were burning on the sidewalk” and, in fact, he would step over them and walk away.
Clinical Impressions: Mr. Esmond is a man who appears to be slightly older than his stated age and this is likely due to the fact that he has no teeth. (He stated that his teeth were extracted, but then he lost his insurance and has not been able to replace them.) He is a man of slight build who appeared for his evaluation reasonably well groomed and casually dressed. He wore a baseball cap throughout the evaluation. Mr. Esmond is rather tangential in his speech and not particularly direct in answering questions. He was overtly cooperative with all requests for psychometric testing and personal information. He was apparently free from intrusive thought and was fully oriented times three throughout the evaluation process.
Parenting Issues: Parenting attitudes are assessed by means of the interview, the Parenting Sentence Completion Series, and the parent/child interaction observation.
Asked what he likes most about parenting, Mr. Esmond stated that he likes his kids. He stated that he likes seeing his kids happy and doing things. He stated that childhood is supposed to be fun. He stated that the difference in Matty since foster placement has been remarkable.
Asked what he likes least about being a parent, Mr. Esmond stated that he does not like having to discipline children. He stated that he is strict, but does not go out of his way to spank children. He stated that it is hard today to discipline children without being charged with assault. He then went on a rambling tangent about children with guns in school and having more problems with children today then in the past.
Asked to describe his strengths as a parent, Mr. Esmond stated that parents should make sure their children are supported financially and emotionally. He stated that he tries to do things with his children when he gets out of work. He stated that he was very strict with the children and followed through with punishment, and this meant that he had to be strict for a reason. Asked to describe his weaknesses as a parent, Mr. Esmond stated that discipline is his weakness. He stated that some people say that he is too strict, but that is an opinion and everybody has got one. He
stated that he had it thrown in his face that he needed to work, but then said that the same people said it was a problem that he did not spend time with his children.
Asked how he handles anger, Mr. Esmond stated that he used to spend a lot of time yelling. He stated that he has no qualms raising his voice and that arguing has been commonplace in his life for as long as he can remember. He stated that he blames being screamed and yelled at by his parents for the way he is today.
Asked about how he handles discipline, Mr. Esmond stated that he would basically use time out. He stated that children rarely got a spanking. He then stated that he used to use hot sauce on the tongue, but “apparently that’s abuse these days”. He stated that he never beat on his kids. He stated that he has used a belt and soap in the mouth, but the child asked to take the belt again because it didn’t hurt. He stated that there is a fine line on spanking. He stated that you should be able to spank your child, but not leave a mark on them.
Mr. Esmond was asked to describe his children. He stated that his nine-year-old son, Caleb, is more “girly”. He described him as prim and proper and said that he does a lot of reading. He stated that Caleb is into learning things. He also stated that he plays basketball and is in Boy Scouts and is quite proper and frail. He described him as tall and skinny and not a tough kid. He stated that he is more apt to cry and is more on the girly side. He also stated that he was told throughout Caleb’s mother’s pregnancy that he was going to have a girl.
He stated that his seven-year-old son, Danny, is more like him and is short and stocky. He stated that of all of his children he is more his son and he described him as my “little redneck” and “my little roughneck”. He described him as sneaky and stated that he is “like me to a T” and that he likes to play. He stated that he does not have to worry about him because he is a tough little kid.
He described his four-year-old son, Kris, as a great kid, but stated that he has not seen him in quite a few months. He stated that his mother is training him to be gay. He said that he has quite a bit of spirit in him, but he is a good child. According to him, his maternal grandfather makes six figures and so he is prim and proper and a polite child. According to him, he used to like coming to see his father.
Mr. Esmond described his three-year-old stepchild, Matty, as a child that he would have described as out of control previously. He stated that he has always been difficult to manage and the most challenging child to deal with. He stated that Matty did not like authority and he is absolutely a changed child now. He said that if Matty was like the way he is now when he was with himself and his wife, they would not have had any problems.
Mr. Esmond described his nine-month-old child, Garvey, as always a happy child who is now crawling and lights up when he hears his parent’s voice.
As part of the evaluation, Mr. Esmond was asked to fill in the Parenting Sentence Completion Series. Mr. Esmond used the parenting sentence completions to complain about the way that he was parented. He described being abused by his parents and stated that he no longer considers them his parents. He described some rather rigid approaches toward parenting. His sentence completions overall were unremarkable for any overtly abusive attitudes. The parenting sentence completions indicate that Mr. Esmond views his parenting style as adequate, and it should be
noted that the sentence completion series simply indicates a parent’s ability to verbally articulate parenting concepts.
As part of the evaluation, Mr. Esmond and his wife, Mariah, were observed in a one-hour play session with Garvey and Matty. Mr. Esmond participated fully in the play session alternating his attention between Garvey and Matty. He was somewhat aggressive in his play with Matty, at one point throwing a ball and hitting Matty in the head with it, but not in an angry way. The one-hour observation session was unremarkable for any abusive behaviors on the part of Mr. Esmond. It should be noted, however, that a parent/child interaction observation session only represents one hour in the life of parent and child and, as such, has limited generalizability. It does indicate that for one hour being observed by a mental health professional, Mr. Esmond was able to be appropriate with the children.
Psychometric Testing Results: Mr. Esmond was administered the reading subtest of the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT3). His Standard score of 105 indicated the ability to read at the post high school graduate level. He was thus deemed able to self-administer those tests not requiring examiner administration.
Mr. Esmond was administered the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT2). He obtained a Verbal standard score of 106 (average) with a 90% confidence interval of 99-113. He obtained a Nonverbal standard score of 105 (average) with a 90% confidence interval of 97-113. He obtained a K-BIT I.Q. Composite standard score of 107 (average) with a 90% confidence interval of 104-114. Based on the results of the K-BIT2, Mr. Esmond appears to have an average I.Q. Cognitive functioning is therefore not a risk factor for child maltreatment in this case.
Mr. Esmond completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2). His response style was to exaggerate symptoms and pathology rather extensively. The clinical scale elevations on this administration of the MMPI-2 are highly consistent with Antisocial Personality Disorder. In addition to the antisocial aspects of the MMPI-2, Mr. Esmond endorsed a number of affective problems around anxiety and depression. The relative scale elevations are also consistent with borderline personality features. Mr. Esmond reports fairly significant ideas of persecution by others, as well as somatic complaints and low positive emotions.
Mr. Esmond completed the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III). As with the MMPI-2, he tended to report a high number of problematic ideas and symptoms. His response style showed a broad tendency to magnify the level of experienced illness, as well as a characterological inclination to complain or to be self-pitying. There is reason to believe from this self-report that at least a moderate level of pathology characterizes his overall personality organization. His profile suggests the presence of depressive and pessimistic moods, edgy irritability, and feelings of being cheated, misunderstood, and unappreciated. Likely to be critical and bitter, he may often feel like a victim, overburdened and mistreated. His personal relationships are likely to be tenuous and occasionally turbulent, fraught with fights and antagonism, that may often be provoked by his characteristic guilt inducing, complaining, and passive-aggressive attitude. Also worthy of attention is his inclination to act thoughtlessly and irresponsibly and to be generally careless and imprudent, failing to plan ahead or to consider the legal or ethical consequences of his behavior.
Mr. Esmond completed the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-3). His responses were open and honest, and yielded a valid profile. Based on his responses to this self-report measure, Mr. Esmond has a high probability of having a substance dependence disorder with the chief substance being alcohol.
Mr. Esmond completed the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP-I), an instrument that measures the extent to which the examinee shares characteristics with persons known to physically harm children. There were significant subscale elevations relative to his feelings of Distress, Unhappiness, Problems with Children, and Problems with Others. All of these subscale elevations resulted in a high elevation of the Abuse scale score. An elevated Abuse scale score indicates that the examinee has an array of personal and interpersonal characteristics that are similar to characteristics of known physical child abusers. Data indicate that as abuse scores increase so does the likelihood of physical child abuse, thus high abuse scale scores should be viewed as very meaningful. People with elevated Abuse scores tend to be immature, moody, restless, self-centered, evasive of responsibility, and frustrated. In general, they exhibit more worry, pessimism, and depression. They are more anxious and report more uncomfortable emotional feelings. Those with elevated Abuse scores tend to be touchy, over reactive, and irritable with low frustration tolerance, poor impulse control, and easy frustration.
Mr. Esmond completed the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) relative to his wife’s son, Matty Moreau. His responses were open and honest, and yielded a nondefensive and interpretable profile. All subscales on the Child domain were significantly elevated, indicating that he views Matty in a highly problematic manner and has little, if any, attachment to his stepson. On the Parent domain, all subscales were elevated, with the exception of Mr. Esmond’s relationship with his spouse, which he reported as being somewhat satisfactory. This indicates highly problematic parenting. This would be consistent with his blaming of Matty for many of the family difficulties. The results of this administration of the PSI should be considered quite alarming and would cause concern in any parenting evaluation.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Based on the psychometric testing, it appears that Mr. Esmond is a man of average I.Q. Therefore, his intellectual abilities would not be considered problematic and would not be a risk factor for child maltreatment.
Based on the remainder of the psychometric testing, the personal history, the clinical impressions, and the records provided by DHHS, it is apparent that Mr. Esmond is a man with Antisocial Personality Disorder with borderline features. In addition to these problems on Axis II, he is reporting significant problems on Axis I related to Anxiety and Depression. The testing and history are also strongly suggestive of Alcohol Dependence Disorder.
With regard to Mr. Esmond’ underlying mood disorder, there is certainly no reason to ignore the depression and anxiety he is reporting. Whatever psychotropic or psychotherapeutic methods might be used to ameliorate the depression could improve the quality of his functioning. With regard, however, to the Axis II personality issues, the prognosis is much more guarded and complex. With regard to Borderline Personality features, this greatly explains his impulsive and self-destructive acting out behaviors and his inability to contain himself appropriately with others. Borderline Personality is best treated with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and Mr. Esmond would need to apply himself in a painstaking and long-term way to ameliorate the impulsivity associated with borderline personality.
Antisocial Personality Disorder is generally resistant to treatment. In fact, studies have shown that the conventional wisdom of avoiding psychotherapy for persons with Antisocial Personality Disorder is well founded, given that the antisocial person tends to use the therapy as a way to hone their antisocial skills. If Mr. Esmond is to attempt any sort of treatment of his Antisocial Personality Disorder, such treatment would need to be provided by a therapist who is well trained and highly skilled at treating this disorder. Treatment with an unskilled therapist could actually exacerbate the antisocial symptoms. Given Mr. Esmond’ long history of conduct disorder and antisociality, the prognosis for its treatment is not good, and perhaps the best that one could hope for is that his behaviors are contained in some way by society.
It is obvious from the interview and the history that Mr. Esmond has little insight. One of his strongest personality characteristics is that he externalizes blame and takes little responsibility for his actions. At no point in the interview did he take responsibility for any of his actions, except to say that he was ill equipped to deal with Matty’s behaviors. Even then, however, Mr. Esmond dealt with his abuse of Matty by vilifying the child, rather than taking responsibility for his own abusive and sadistic behavior toward the child. At no time did he make the connection between his abusive and pathogenic parenting and the child’s resulting behavior.
While Mr. Esmond downplayed his substance abuse in the interview, there is evidence to the contrary. The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory was indicative of a high probability of a substance dependence disorder. Mr. Esmond’ movements, speech, and presentation on the DVD indicated that at one point he was acting intoxicated when dealing with Matty. There is also the issue of Mr. Esmond’ loss of his driver’s license due to repeated charges of driving while intoxicated, another strong indicator of alcohol dependence. This overlay of alcohol dependence is likely to impede any potential progress that Mr. Esmond might make in his treatment. He is strongly encouraged to seriously address the alcohol issue. It is unclear what Mr. Esmond meant by “not going out of his way” to smoke marijuana.
While it is not the place of this evaluation to argue whether Mr. Esmond was abused as a child, the issue at hand is his current pathology and its detrimental impact on his parenting abilities and the safety of children around him. The best predictor of future behavior being past behavior, and the fact that Mr. Esmond has done little in the way of effective treatment for his many psychological issues, makes his unsupervised presence with children highly risky. Since he is in no way legally related to Matty, the Department certainly has no obligation to reunify him with that particular child. Given the trauma that he has inflicted on Matty, it would be considered unwise to allow him any unsupervised contact. Regarding Mr. Esmond’s biological children, it would be prudent and justifiable for the Department to require supervision if Mr. Esmond is to have contact with them as well. Given the current level of pathology and out-of-control behaviors, it is unlikely that Mr. Esmond is capable of being a stable, warm, or empathic attachment figure to his children, and it is reasonable to assume that children would continue to be at risk for physical and emotional harm in his care.