Should I make the call?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by FutureTeacher_1, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. FutureTeacher_1

    FutureTeacher_1 Rookie

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Hi all,

    A student told me today that he is "hit and sweared at" at home.

    He does on occasion modify the truth, but never on this scale. He also usually looks unkept, messy, misses often, definitely neglected it appears.

    My AP said that we shouldn't call unless we see some bruises.

    I know I'm a mandatory reporter in my state but I'm worried about crossing this AP and losing my job..

    Help me. I feel sick to my stomach.
     
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  3. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Nov 14, 2012

    As a mandated reporter you are obligated by law to report this.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Virtuoso

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Bruises can be covered by clothing. Unless the student strips, your AP's theory is a faulty one. Do you have a school counselor who can talk with the student and corroborate what you've heard?
     
  5. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Nov 14, 2012

    You should at least report it to the school social worker.
     
  6. FutureTeacher_1

    FutureTeacher_1 Rookie

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Counselor will start seeing the boy next month for social support.

    He said to call.

    Social worker said to hold off also...sides with the AP.

    I'm so conflicted. The parents recovering drug addicts..the AP says theyre getting their lives together calling will ruin it all.
     
  7. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Hitting their child will ruin it all.

    You are not to blame for their behavior.

    Call it in.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 14, 2012

    That's not fulfilling the duties of a mandated reporter.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I think it's important to keep in mind a few things. First, there is some level above which you "suspect" abuse to have occurred and below which you do not. That's not a line of severity, but a line of plausibility. If a child says "my mom yelled at me because I forgot to bring home my homework," that might fall below the likelihood of suspicion. Because we aren't familiar with the context in which it was said or the child who said it, I would not give credibility to our decisions on the Internet as to whether you should or shouldn't call.

    Second, at no point should the potential benefit or harm of calling be a variable, despite the fact that calls can and often do cause more harm than benefit. It's simply legally not your call to make.

    Third, if there is defensible gray area (ie you legitimately can't decide if what you've heard should he defined as suspicion), I believe it's appropriate to follow guidance of administration and folks like the social worker. However, if you are clear in your suspicion but are not supported by admin or social worker, you shouldn't use that as a reason to not call, as informing admin and social worker doesn't remove your mandate to call if you indeed do suspect abuse.

    All of this, of course, leads to the definition of "abuse." For example, if a child said, "My mom gives me balloons" you would not suspect abuse because giving balloons isn't in the behavioral realm of abuse. However, if a child said, "Every night when I get home my mom hits me with a frying pan if I got in trouble at school," then that would fall within the definition of abuse.

    Simply saying the word "hitting" to me would not automatically fall within the definition of abuse as it could refer to a discipline situation which, however undesirable, would not cause me to be suspicious of abuse unless the child described something that crossed the line definitionally from discipline to abuse.

    Unfortunately, this can place you in a tricky situation, as it's definitely a bad idea to follow up with additional questions if you're told something, because under some state laws the number of times a child can be questioned is limited, and if you ask questions you might use up one of those times. However, it may be acceptable for your school social worker to have a further conversation with the child, gather more information, and make a decision.

    In your particular situation, based on the information you've given, I would ask the social worker to follow up with the child and handle the situation. If the child simply stated "my mom hits me" but provided no context, I would personally not know if the child were referring to a discipline situation or abuse situation, and would ask the social worker to follow up with the child and handle the situation. I would feel comfortable not calling if the social worker followed up, gathered more information, and made a decision (whichever decision) based on more information that I had.. However, if the social worker refused to follow-up, I would likely make the call out of caution. However, I'd again be extremely clear that none of us on the internet have full access to the information you have, including the context of the specific conversation, tone of voice and body language involved, history of the child, etc. So, anyone telling you to absolutely call or not call is probably speaking prematurely.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oh, and the idea of "waiting until bruises" is suggesting that you wait until evidence is attained, which is clearly not right. Gathering evidence is the job of subsequent investigators, not the mandated reporter. As a matter of fact, if you have suspicion but wait for evidence, you are violating your duties and could be subject to legal action.
     
  11. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    I agree with this.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I believe we're supposed to report if we have reasonable suspicion. We don't have to be absolutely sure, that's the job of the investigators. If you feel that this scenario falls under possibility of abuse, you should report.
     
  13. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I agree. Unfortunately, some admin will tell you not to call because they don't want to get involved. That's really sad because we, sometimes, are the only one the child can turn to. Being abused at home is frightening because, most children, no matter how horrible their parents treat them, still love their parents deeply so for this child to have shared this info with you, he may very well be asking for your help. :hugs: BTW..I was a victim of child abuse and I told so many teachers what was going on at home after my mom died but not a single one of them ever helped me or my sisters. It took my sister loosing an eye by one of my father's punches fo anyone to take us seriously. We spent four years in absolute hell before the state finally took notice and immediately removed us from our home and placed us in foster care. We became wards of the state within three months of my sister walking herself into an emergency room at the age of 15. We never had to go home again. I shake my head at all those adults who turned a blind eye to our situation. I still have trust issues because of the adults I knew as a kid. I'm almost 50. I never ignore a child who is reaching out to me. I consider it my way of helping set things right. I hope you find it in yourself to do what's right.
     
  14. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Phenom

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Report your concerns.
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I know I'm a mandatory reporter in my state but I'm worried about crossing this AP and losing my job..

    Help me. I feel sick to my stomach.


    If you report it, they most likely won't tell your VP or P. I have reported incidents when my P has said not to, and I have never gotten in trouble. I don't think they ever knew.

    I suggest doing what you believe is right, and don't worry about the VP. The VP most likely will never know.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Nov 14, 2012

    You should report it, it's confidential.

    We had to report a case not too long ago. A student confided in me that he had sex with an officer (he was under 18, even if he would've been over 18, it's still wrong) I talked to another teacher (she knew him well), she talked to him and he did confirm some things but didn't open up to her as much. We reported it. They actually came out to investigate within a week, not CPS but the sheriff.

    The teacher said not to tell the P because then she has to tell probation and that could be a problem. Somehow, they found out that the other teacher was involved in the reporting, but they didn't know I was, too. Probation has been retaliating against the student and are kinda weird to the teacher. The P still doesn't know, as far I know.
    We just got our response letter today. They're still investigating, the other teacher's letter says it's been referred to community agency, mine says it's been referred to law enforcement. She said my report was probably 'better' because he told me more things, that's why they take it more seriously.

    We did the right thing. The teacher says it's good that probation doesn't know about me, but I told her I don't care. They can't intimidate me, if they find out, oh well, I did the right thing and I feel good about it. Even though I'm 'just' a sub, I do not fear that I could lose my job. If I did NOT report it, I could lose my job.
     
  17. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Nov 15, 2012

    Your job is to report if you suspect. Your job is NOT to determine if there is abuse. Call. Although many schools say to just report to the admin, that is contrary to the law.

    I worked with at risk teens for many years, and reported many situations. Not all were abuse situations, but I felt some further investigation was warrented. Two of the situations involved high school teachers--they were terminated.
     
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    It's not contrary to the law to report to admin and let them report, but if you suspect abuse you are obligated to make sure it's reported. You don't necessarily have to be the one to make the call, but you can be held accountable if no one does.
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Virtuoso

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    One of the local districts has suspended two principals for possible inaction on a sexual assault case. Amazingly, it was the parent of the student who claimed she assaulted her classmates who contacted the school. It's a painful case because, otherwise, the principals are reported to be incredibly effective administrators.

    In your case, I would cover yourself but also rely on CPS to be discreet. If there are still problems with drug addiction or drug withdrawal, those parents need help. You may be getting them the counseling or treatment they need.
     
  20. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    There is no question. You should report. The authorities will determine the truth, that is not up to you.
     
  21. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Nov 15, 2012

    Report it. You might be the only one with this young man's best interest in mind.
     

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