Having been on both sides of a child-welfare investigation, it is never ok. It is never ok to cross that line into abuse and or neglect and it is never ok not to report. It frustrates me that as an educator that it takes an incident such as the scandal at Penn State to raise awareness about something that I believe should be part of everyone’s moral fiber.
This morning as I was reading the USA Today they posted an article entitled “Few penalties for keeping child abuse secret.” A few facts from the story that are important to note:
1. “Child welfare agencies estimate that 695, 000 children were abused or neglected last year. “ Note: These are only ones that are reported. Many abuse and or neglect cases are never reported.
2. “ Only 3 (Arizona, Florida, Minnesota) states have laws that make failing to report abuse a felony, and those laws generally only apply when the abuse is particularly severe or the person has been convicted before” Note: Failure to report in most instances equates to the cost of a speeding ticket. Sad.
What is abuse and or neglect? According to the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:
1. Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
2. An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Now, some people might state that by reporting, that we stressing an already stressed system due to lack of funding and whether they are making a valid report. As someone that deals with Protective Services on a frequent basis, I err on the side of caution and say that it is better to report than do nothing at all. Remember, at one time we were all children and you would have wanted somebody to be the voice for you when you could not do it for yourself.
Note: If you are looking for some general information on child abuse/neglect check out: http://www.childwelfare.gov/