How do you feel about reporting child abuse? Where do you draw the line?

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Aria - posted on 11/09/2012

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If I think a child is being hurt, like if there's tons of screaming, weird bruises, a lot of filth, etc., I will report it. I care less about "not getting in someone else's business" than in keeping a kid safe. Once I heard too much shouting in an apartment and so called 911. There was a drunk guy beating up his girlfriend and a young boy I never even knew lived there. Had I not "gotten in someone else's business," someone could have been killed. Would you want someone looking away if you or your child were being abused?



When everyone thinks someone else will call if it's bad enough, no one calls and no help arrives. I say screw that and I'll call myself. Better to have five calls than none.

Tah - posted on 09/02/2012

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In alot of cases, here, it seems to be act first then sort it out later, and it stays on the parents record that they were investigated...

Ariana - posted on 10/10/2012

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I would have to be pretty sure that some terrible abuse was happening. Like definite signs of sexual/physical abuse or an account from a child saying they're being hurt. I wouldn't call for anything else because foster care isn't a place you want a child to go unless they really are being hurt at home.

Nikki - posted on 09/02/2012

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But as I said in my first post our systems are very different, people are probably more likely to report here because our system is largely based on education and support. Our system is not over crowded like the US appears to be, all cases/reports are assessed within the time frame of a month for non serious offenses, children at serious risk are assessed within 24 hours. From my experiences with child protection, which is often I feel completely comfortable reporting any risk factors I observe.

Nikki - posted on 08/30/2012

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I am in Australia and I am a mandatory reporter. I am required by law to report abuse, I have training in identifying signs of abuse. I have reported a lot of children over the years. From what I understand our system is a lot better that the US, our system usually works towards educating and monitoring parents rather than removing children. Unless of course they are at extreme risk.

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About 10 years ago or so I called CPS on a neighbor because oe way the stepfather treated his stepdaughter. She was a delightful little girl with some majob major problems. She was having daytime wettings in Kindergarten and at home. Partially because the stepfather liked (and I'm not kidding) to put on halloween masks, hide in the shower and jump out at her when she would go to the toilet. She told me and he bragged about it. They would make her sleep in a wet, pissy bed and when she got lice, they cut off her hair with a lady's razor. The pissy bed finally was enough for me because I loved/love that little girl.



One day (it was Easter morning), my son was at his father's. I was about to go to the store and I see "Amy" playing outside. She then slipped and feel, cutting her knees and ripping the lace off her dress. She became utterly hysterical that her stepfather would beat her. I picked her up, hugged her tight and told her to come inside with me because I would treat her knee and mend her dress and her family never need know about it.



She looked at me with such gratitude that I tear up even now thinking about it. She just said. "You're not mad that I tore it?"



I got her cleaned up and mended and her family didn't know.



What broke my heart is that CPS believed the mother that they would never make her sleep in a pissy bed and to this day, her mother thinks her mother called CPS.



They did nothing to change it. All I could do was make sure that Amy had a safe place to hide. Her digusting stepfather hit on me constantly while Amy's mother was pregnant with their 3rd child.



They moved away and I lost contact. I wish I knew what happened but despite their non-action, I 'm glad I called CPS. At least they knew someone was watching them.

Becky - posted on 10/15/2012

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I have a couple stories that are relevant here. My Mother was investigated for abuse because of my younger brother & I. She was reported by an ER doc. In a few months my brother broke his leg jumping from a stump in our yard, and I broke my wrist falling off my bed. Of course my mom never imagined that my wrist was actually broken, until the next day when it was worse and she took me to the hospital. My mom was an excellent Mother, and she never abused or neglected us, we were just rough kids. The Doc & the nursing staff never bothered to try and talk to me or my brother about what happened on either incident.



The other story I have is my old boss & her daughter. The school nurse reported her for neglect because her daughter told the nurse she had a yeast infection and that her mom hadn't taken her to a doctor. Mind you, her daughter was about 8 at the time. Mom took her directly to the doctor as soon as social services called her. Turned out her daughter didn't even know what a yeast infection AND she certainly did not have one!



And yet . . . about 8 years ago I remember watching the news and hearing about a 3 year old boy who died as a result of injuries he sustained from long term abuse. They interviewed the daycare staff (a place I considered putting my daughter only months before!) and they had reported the abuse. Turns out the poor little boy was being bounced from his Mom's to his Dad's since he was born . . . in both homes he was abused! In 3 years the state never felt he was in serious enough danger to remove him entirely from his parents.



Makes me sad that, at least from what I've seen in my life time . . . seems like good parents who are reported are thoroughly investigated and potentially put though hell . . . but the kids that really need the help seem to slip through the cracks. Seems to me there's something broken in the system.

Amy - posted on 09/03/2012

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Every state and country does have specific laws regarding abuse. However, some things to look for. Large bruising or bruising typically on parts of the body that are not easily visible. Recurring bruises. Bruises explained away constantly: fell down the stairs, ran into a door. Yes, I know those are common ways a child gets hurt but when those are typically the only answers you get, then be suspicious. If you see abuse happening, report it ASAP. I have had a CPS worker tell me that smacking the hands or on the behind is acceptable if it does not leave welts or bruises. They can no longer say no marks at all because fair-skinned people do get red marks easily just from bumping into things. Many times people don't stand up for children they suspect are being abused and the child suffers severe injury and sometimes death. Also, CPS need to learn how to universally do their job properly because a lot of times they drop the ball on it as well (an experience a family member had).

Julie - posted on 09/02/2012

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Ouch, if that were the case here, I would definitely be more reluctant to make the call!



The authorities who provided the training to us described the reporting system as 'climbing the rungs on a ladder'. Often times no action would be taken but the incident would be on record. If, as time went on, more reports were being filed describing signs of abuse or neglect, it would begin to paint a picture and the case would "climb the ladder", so-to-speak. (This is in the cases where the reports did not indicate extreme/immediate danger to the child) As time goes on, depending on the case and the severity of the reports, action may or may not be taken; this often "weeds out" the cases where, for example, one parent attempts to over report every hangnail or scraped knee so as to curry favour in a custody case. Also, the source of the report will determine what 'rung on the ladder' the report goes to. Was the report made anonymously? By an estranged parent or friend of the family? A police officer, teacher or doctor? If the latter, the report would carry more clout.

Julie - posted on 09/02/2012

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Yeah, the worst that I know of in the cases I've personally had to report, a social worker came to visit the house of one mother here in Australia for one-on-one assessment/education. At no point was there a threat of removal of the child, it has to be very dire circumstances for that to happen (i.e. police get called out to a house where physical violence/extreme neglect was directly observed and reported). Removing the child from parent is considered a last resort here... they won't even remove a child from a drug user in many cases.

Tah - posted on 09/01/2012

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I live in VA now, but it was the same here. I just haven't seen people report often, you are right, there are definitely those who over report/under report. Have I seen parents who could use some parenting classes, yes. Do I think they have needed the threat of CPS stepping in and perhaps filtering their children into an already overcrowded system, no.

Julie - posted on 08/31/2012

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I think there are probably those who over report, just as there are those who under report. I guess it's like any situation where judgement is used. Not sure what the situation is in Philly with CPS, or what processes are in place so it's difficult to comment. I can only speak for the training I got here in Oz...

Tah - posted on 08/31/2012

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Well that depends on where you are nurse, the places I have worked, that hasn't been the case, but again...I was just wondering...

Nikki - posted on 08/31/2012

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I work in child care so I spend days,months and years with these children, abusive behaviours are easier to spot when you have built a close relationship with these children and know their background really well. Possibly a bit different to being a nurse where you spend minimal with your patients.

Tah - posted on 08/30/2012

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I understand how mandated reporting works, again have been in healthcare a long time, 7 of those years as a nurse, In some areas that weren't that great, since I lived in some..being from Philly. I am just wondering if maybe sometimes, people are calling when they don't need to. For instance, if they just don't agree with someone else's parenting method. Some people get the mandated reporter title and take it overboard,Like go sit down somewhere and calm down. I am not saying that you guys are these people, but I don't think myself or the other mandated reporters I work with and am friends with(nurses, administrators,social workers etc.) have had to call those many times put together. So, I just wondered where you guys are living, working, shopping, vacationing, or passing by that is requiring so many calls. Thanks for answering though.

Julie - posted on 08/30/2012

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Tah, I gave one example. I was working in a pretty rough neighbourhood, this stuff came up a lot. People would often leave their toddler kids in a public library and walk off for 6 hours whilst they did food shopping and ran errands, even after they were made aware that they were not to do so, there was no supervised creche and children under a certain age were not to be left unattended. Sometimes the police had to be called because the place had closed and the parent hadn't picked up their child, who was too young to be able to even tell us his/her name, let alone give contact details. But this was also an area where people would come and shoot up in the bathrooms or homeless would curl up on the lounges and sleep during the winter months. I've also had to ring through when a child told a staff member that her father would hurt her in the bathtub a lot and displayed some other telling behaviour. She was quite young and it was difficult to get further information as to specifics. But as a mandatory reporter, if there is any indication or suspicion, you have to ring it through or you will be held in breach.

Tah - posted on 08/30/2012

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I have been in healthcare for 11 years and have been n mandated reporter for as long and have never had to call. I wonder what are the things that are causing you ladies to have to call so frequently??

Julie - posted on 08/27/2012

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In Australia, there is a Child Abuse Report Line (CARL) to ring. Depending on your job, you may be required by law to report anything suspicious. If you work in health care, with children or in the government, for example, you are a mandatory reporter. There is a website which outlines behaviours and signs to look out for, as well as what NOT to notify. I've had to ring that line about 4 times. But oftentimes, the call will just be for reference purposes, and they do make the effort to focus on educating the parent, not taking a child away.



For example, the first report I ever had to make was when a mother, for the third time that week, had brought her 6 week old infant in to use the internet (this was at a govt library btw). Each time, the infant would be screaming her head off for the entire hour whilst her mother ignored her and chatted on MSN Messenger. Many patrons and staff members had to make calls that week. This case did not eventuate in her child being taken off her. A social worker was sent to her house to educate her because she thought this was the "CIO" method.



Not sure how it works elsewhere, but I wouldn't consider a bruise a sign, I would look at the behaviour of the child and/or the parent.

Tah - posted on 08/02/2012

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You have to be very careful when reporting child abuse. There are different laws to consider. Some people may consider raising your voice to abuse or a pop to the bottom. I don't know where a bruise may have come from. My husband can scratch himself, or use weights and have the bar rest on his neck when we go to the gym and it looks like someone hit him there, unfortunately Rylan got that from him. If he scratches, falls(which he does alot) he will have red marks. If i didn't have all of the incident reports from his school of the things he does, noone would believe it. At five he has already broken both arms. One he got falling down the steps at around three years old. It was a buckle fracture from catching himself, he bruised and had to get a cast. Then he fell off the slide at a family function. He complained of pain in his arm on the opposite side. The ER doc said there was no break. Then the hospital called and said, o sorry, there is a hairline fracture. No cast was needed. Last week the school called, he had to go to the ER because he stuffed paper in his ear. To top it off, he was born with a green spot on his wrist. Mongolian spots which are normal in African American children. If someone were to see any of that and assume he was abused, they would be wrong and putting him and our family through grief. You have to be really careful. I would know what I considered abuse when I saw it, and take appropriate action. I wouldn't see a bruise and then assume though...

Lakota - posted on 07/30/2012

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There are signs of abuse and neglect. If they are there, report it. Better safe than sorry. There are many stories in the news about children who are physically abused and/or neglected that have died. I'm sure they would have loved to have had a caring adult intervene.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/25/2012

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I strongly feel that if you are a witness to child abuse, it is our job as parents and citizens to report it. I have to admit, I have seen behavior that has crossed the line, but was not sure if it was considered abuse in my area. Laws are different from state to state, and country to country. I would not want to report something that was NOT abuse. It is a fine line in many cases. Using your best judgement is the key.

Marie - posted on 07/24/2012

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i would only report if a child has physical bruses that dont look like came from a kid being a normal kid, i just would not want to report if if there was even one chance that was a mistake, i have very high mantiance children and one i have to redrict all the time cause she hits herself, one of my other children will yell at the top of her lungs and cause the bigest seene she can. i have had people report me because of this. the same one has also trown herself to the ground and walk in a way if im holding her arm to get her up and balanced that people have thought i was draging her. dont know if this helpped but this is what i have experanced and am still dealing with.

Alexandria - posted on 07/21/2012

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I think that I hesitate to report possible abuse or neglect for several reasons. First, I don't want to get in someone's business. Second, I'm somewhat confused on whats okay and what is not. But the biggest reason I don't call is because I worry about potentially making someones life worse instead of better.
I'm doing my thesis over this topic, and I'm trying to understand how people see abuse and neglect, and what factors effect the decision to report.

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