Child abuse is often plagued by children and other family members who don’t know where to turn for help. They want the child to be safe, but they are also afraid that the child will be put into the foster care system or even worse. The main problem here is mandated reporting. If you come forward with your concerns will people report you? Actually, mandated reporting is a blessing in disguise for most people involved. Here’s a bit about how the system works and why it will help, not hurt, you.
Mandated reporting laws vary greatly from state to state. However, in general, these laws say that anyone who works with a child they believe is being abused is obligated to report this abuse to the authorities. This includes teachers, doctors, counselors, day care workers and baby-sitters, and so forth are all required by law to report child abuse. Basically, anyone who come into contact with the child is held under these laws.
Laws vary, but in most cases, a person is only legally required to report a situation when he or she is told of the abuse. So, if a child confides in the adult that he or she is being abused, a parent admits the abuse, or another family member comes forwards and discloses this information, the person must contact Child Protective Services. On the other hand, if the person only suspects the abuse is occurring, it is a judgment call. It is always better to report abuse and risk being wrong than to not report it and be right. However, some people will wait until they have hard evidence of abuse before reporting it.
Just because you aren’t trained to spot abuse or deal with situation in which a child tells you he or she is being abused doesn’t mean that you aren’t required to report the situation. Legally, most people dealing with children are required under mandating reporting laws. However, only teachers, doctors, police staff, and such are actually trained in most cases. If a child comes forward to you, however, you should always report it even if you think he or she is lying to get attention. Legally, in many cases, you must do so not matter what you think about the situation.
After reporting, Child Protective Services will investigate the situation. At this point, you’ll be asked further questions, as will other people in the child’s life. Contrary to what most people think, children, even those who are undoubtedly being abused, are usually placed with family members if they are removed from the home at all. These agencies are very careful to make sure that there really is an abusive situation on hand.
Therefore, if you believe that a child is being abused or have witnessed the abuse yourself, don’t be afraid of mandated reporting. If the situation is reported, only good can come from it. The child will be removed from the situation and, in most cases, the abuser will get help to control his or her violent tendencies. Mandated reporting is your friend.