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The term Phantom Social Workers (also known as Bogus Social Workers) arose in the United Kingdom and United States due to sporadic reports to police and media by members of the public, claiming to be social workers and attempting to abduct infants from their parents, usually acting quite aggressively in the process. Police investigations into these reports failed to find any substantial evidence or locate any suspects.

The phenomenon was initially and most frequently reported in the early 1990s.

Origins

It is thought that reports of unidentified "social workers" attempting to take children away from their parents were merely scare stories or urban legends, fuelled by the publicised story of Marietta Higgs, a pediatrician from Cleveland who diagnosed 121 children as being victims of sexual abuse from their parents without any evidence or reason.[1][2]

Existence

In the early 1990s various reports to police from concerned parents in the UK emerged. They concerned the conduct of several unidentified persons, claiming to be social workers. The "visits" usually included several women with a man who always seemed to be acting in a supervisory role. "Visits" consisted of an inspection of the children in the household, during which the "social workers" display strange behaviour.

Parents of the children contacted police after the encounter due to their concerns about the "examination" of children carried out. Some descriptions of "examinations" claimed they were very thorough, leading to the police to classify these encounters as sexual assault.

Even though the phenomenon is encountered today, to date there has been no successful prosecution of a person attempting these actions.

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