At what point should I independently call CPS?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by gr3teacher, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Our school policy is that teachers do not make CPS referrals. Referrals instead come from the counselors and administration. Here's the situation though...

    I have a third grade girl who is struggling with multiplication and division. Mom and dad both know about this. She is extremely reluctant to do anything even remotely related to multiplication and division. A little odd for my room, but certainly nothing troubling.

    Well last Monday, I pull her out into the hallway to have a talk with her. She's very shy, and getting her to say a word out loud to me requires her to be away from the other kids. I ask her what I can do to help her. Nothing. She just says it's hard. I ask her if she's working at home, if mom and dad can help her at all. She then bursts into tears and says that her dad "hurts me if I don't answer a question quick enough." She then adds then he punches her in the arm. I don't probe any deeper than that right then, but do let her know to talk to me if she needs anything.

    That day, I go after school to talk to our AP, who tells me to talk to the guidance counselor. I talk to the counselor, who talks to the girl more. Per the girl, dad has punched her at least four times in the arm over multiplication.

    The problem is, she doesn't have any visible marks on her, and the guidance counselor tells me CPS won't do anything if there aren't marks on her. If there actually is abuse in the house though... well, it would actually explain a lot about the student. She always wears long sleeves and pants (even in summer), and always keeps her jacket with her. Her persona in class also largely fits the profile of a child who has been abused. There are cultural factors in play also... largely, dad was born in the Soviet Union. Of course, that is a generalization... and there are children who are just naturally shy and withdrawn...

    So... should I go with the guidance counselor, and wait (because a premature CPS referral could do more harm than good)? Should I file a report independently? I don't want to make things worse for the child, and I also don't want to make much ado about nothing (I don't know if I'd consider this student to be the best source of information about... well, anything)... but I also want to keep the child safe if there is an abusive situation going on. I also don't want to find out the hard way that I didn't meet the legal requirements as a mandated reporter.
     
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  3. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    I'd call, better to be safe than sorry. I totally get where you're coming from when you say you're afraid it might make the situation worse for the kiddo, but you never know. It might be exactly what she needs. We had an inservice on stuff like this, and it was suggested that we report it even if the counselor does and document it. Kind of like a CYA thing.

    Big hugs, that's an awful situation.

    Beth

    ETA: I don't agree with what your counselor said. It might be more of a black/white thing if there are indeed marks, but I don't think it's an open and shut thing if there isn't.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You're supposed to call if you have any suspicion. CPS will investigate if there is any seriousness, but it's not your job to do. Your job is to call within 36 hours, and not rely on AP or counselor or whoever. You can tell them, but you can't not do anything, even if they said they'll report it. You could loose your license.
     
  5. eternalsaudade

    eternalsaudade Companion

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    That school policy would go against my state's laws. Mandated reporting means that if you see or hear anything that suggests a child is being abused or neglected, YOU are required to call CPS. Here this is true even if someone else also makes the report. You may want to check your state laws to see if that is also true in your state. It is not your job to decide whether there is actually abuse going on, but it is your job to make sure that the proper authorities get involved. Make the call and inform your admin that you are doing so.
     
  6. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Yes, you should be calling yourself. 100%, do it. I can't speak for the laws where you are, but in CA, you must report any suspicions yourself. Here, it is not adequate to rely on someone else to do it and you could be held responsible for not acting. It's not your job to determine whether something is actually going on, just to report warning signs so that they may be investigated if necessary.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I agree completely.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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  9. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I agree with what others have said. Needing to report things like this actually makes teachers' jobs easier, in my opinion - it takes any of the judgement calls or additional formal responsibility for followup out of the teacher's hands. You can just call and report what you've seen or heard, and know that it will be dealt with by people better equipped to handle the situation.
     
  10. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Also, if you feel your admin will be not be supportive, you do NOT have to tell them or get their permission. This is on your shoulders and you are the one who can be held liable.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    That actually muddies it up even more for me...

    http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cps/mandated_reporters/cws5691/topic2_2.html

    Going by this here, I've met my "mandated reporter" requirements by telling the school's designated reporter (and getting it documented in writing that I've told them)... although they've flat-out told me they won't be filing a report until they have physical evidence.
     
  12. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Cover your butt, protect the child and report it. It is not their place to wait for physical evidence. Reasonable suspicion is enough, which you clearly have.

    Edit: That page says that your school's designated reporter does not have discretion and therefore MUST report your concerns. You know they are not doing so, so one can assume you should do it yourself. They are the ones who are not following the legal guidelines, but your student is the one who is suffering.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Yes. There does not need to be any physical evidence.

    Making that call is HARD, I know that, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is how it is in California. We do not have to inform anyone at the school at all. We are mandated reporters.....period.
     
  15. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Does anyone actually know what the CPS process is? I'd certainly prefer to stay anonymous, but it would be pretty obvious who actually made the report with any type of investigation. I've been a mandated reporter in at least some form or another for fifteen years and never actually had reason to file a report before :(
     
  16. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    This. In our state you have already broken mandated reporting laws, as has your administration.
     
  17. RadiantBerg

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    You call them now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now.....now, now, now, now, now, now
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    CPS will not reveal your identity. Sometimes it's obvious to the student who made the report (for example they've only talked to you), but you can't let that stop you. You're acting on behalf of the child, in her best interest. No one should be hurting / abusing / neglecting children, physically or otherwise.
     
  19. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Here we can also call and ask to speak to an 'intake worker'. This person will listen to your concern and then tell you if you must report it. Then they put you through to the correct person. You can consult before you actually make a report. And you do not have to tell anyone at your school that you made the call. I am required to fill out a form for my superintendent so they know legally what is going on.
     
  20. teachinnola

    teachinnola Rookie

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    I have some deep feelings on this because when I was a child, my father did this to me. If I got something wrong or didn't answer fast enough when we were reviewing flash cards, spelling words, or whatever, I would get punched on the arm. And in my house, there was a lot of abuse.

    I would call CPS since you are required by law, but in that situation I think I personally would be afraid of the father taking that out on the kids if they did not get removed. I know that would've happened to me as a child.
     
  21. Tasha

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    I would call. One thing to remember is that maybe your report alone might not be enough, but a history of reports like yours will help build a case and you don't know if this incident is the last one needed to move forward with an investigation.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Whenever a teacher makes me aware of suspected child abuse/neglect, I investigate myself by calling in the student and siblings individually. Then, I always make the CPS report the same day. I've never (under any circumstances) waited until the next day.

    Generally, CPS has always done an investigation within 24 hours. Then, within 7-10 business day, they send me a report of what actions were taken as a result of their investigation. I file my report along the summary of the CPS investigation and store everything in my office.

    I've had to file several CPS reports this year. In all cases, the teacher has reported the information to me and I have done the report myself.
     
  23. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    That is illegal in the state where I teach (Arizona), so I don't doubt it is in your state. Teachers must report any possible sign of abuse.

    In your situation, I would suggest contacting CPS.
     
  24. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I was always told you can't be wrong to call CPS when you shouldn't have, but you are wrong not to call when you should. And when there is any kind of suspicion, you should.
    Do it, just to be safe, for everyone's sake, mostly the child.
     
  25. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I know I should... and I'm going to... I'm definitely afraid that I'll get forced out of my school though. I wouldn't be the first person that end up getting pushed out of the district for going against the wishes of administration.
     
  26. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Then they push you out, do what is right first.
     
  27. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I'm under the impression that in California we are not supposed to investigate or interview the child or their family. And, that teachers are not supposed to wait for school personnel to investigate before calling. Am I mistaken?
     
  28. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I think you should call, for sure, but if it's true that she has NO markings, odds are they will drop the investigation. I mean, heck, you have DOCUMENTED abuse cases (marks and all) in this country in which DHS does NOTHING and the child ends up dead! I follow public child abuse/deaths religiously, and state departments are notorious for shuffling their feet, putting things on the back burner, waiting for someone else to do it. State laws say what abuse is, and unfortunately (in NC that is, and likely yours too) unless it "leaves a mark" they won't call it abuse. I think you should go ahead and call just to get it investigated in case they DO find proof--you could be saving her life or the lives of her siblings. But just be prepared for this abusive situation to go "unsubstantiated," because if and most likely when it does do so, you are going to feel really let down :( The rights of children are so often ignored in our country.
     
  29. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Huge hugs! I had to do my first CPS call a few weeks ago, and I felt physically ill while doing it. It is not easy on any end-you sympathize for the child and for the parents, as obviously they are struggling with their anger/emotions. My gut told me I had to call-the child is struggling academically and socially, the counselor told me she exhibits all the sign for sexual abuse, she wrote a weird story in writing about a dad leaving a young girl and then the girl getting pregnant, she told stories about how angry her dad would get, and then her dad came into my room for a spontaneous meeting reeking of weed. CPS found nothing out of the ordinary, but everyone in my school (including the DARE officer) is watching her closely. I'm still glad I called-there is no way I could carry that around with me. Children's safety and well being come first!
     
  30. bros

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    Make the call.
     
  31. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Everything pretty much depends on where you live, but "investigating" at all is pretty much a bad choice, if you don't mind me being blunt. First, teachers aren't trained to investigate. Second, it can corrupt a real investigation and taint a prosecution if it comes to that. Third, it's against policy and procedure most places - all that I've ever seen.

    I've also never seen a situation in which a CPS would get back to you with a report as that information would be confidential, but clearly it's happened where you are so it's happening somewhere.
     
  32. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree that, in all locations I've worked, a teacher's responsibility to report is not generally considered absolved or preempted by a school or district policy. If law mandates a teacher reports, school policy can't go against that.

    That being said, there is a certain threshold which constitutes "suspicion" that we are all allowed to operate under. Generally, counselors, administrators, and psychologists will have had more experience and training in these situations, so I think it is not only permissible, but advisable that general operating procedures involve a teacher reporting suspicion to a counselor or administrator. I also think that, if a teacher is not clear if a particular situation constitutes "suspicion," that it's okay for counselors and admin to provide guidance in that situation.

    All of that being said, if a teacher does have "suspicion" and counseling/admin do not report or tell you they've reported, my understanding would be that, in all districts I've worked in, you would still be held accountable if you did not report.

    Give the facts you've presented, the use of the word "punch" would put it over the line for me. "Getting angry" or "punishing" for not doing things correctly would not, though. If it were me, I would call given the facts you've presented and my interpretation of them.
     
  33. YoungTeacherGuy

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    I'm not sure how often you've come in contact with CPS, but one of the very first things they ask for (in my area, at least) is a statement from the child. They want to know what the child said about the suspected neglect/abuse. I write down the quote(s) on the actual written report and I give the same report when I phone CPS.
     
  34. kc_in_va

    kc_in_va Rookie

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    We went over this recently in my teacher training program (Va). You are legally required to report it - in your case, to the mandated reporter in your school - but if you don't think they are going to report it, you should report it yourself directly. I am surprised that the school is not reporting it, as my professor says that rarely happens. :(
     
  35. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Are you talking about the "investigation" part of things? Writing down a statement about what a child said is totally fine and desirable. Asking follow-up questions to the child, and talking with other children/people about the situation is a different story.
     
  36. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is what we are told. If we have a suspicion, we are to report...period. Admin has nothing to do with it at all. I personally have asked questions to admin when I wasn't sure and the response has been the same 100% of the time...."CALL(report), it is not worth losing your job."
     
  37. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    We are asked to let administration know if we are making a report. They want to be aware of the situation, particularly if CAS shows up to talk to the student. As well, they will often provide us the time and privacy to make the call.
     

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