As our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews return excitedly (or reluctantly) to school, two contrasting themes come to mind: their safety, and the ways in which they embody our collective hopes and dreams.
As social workers, we are mandated reporters. The Summary Guide for Mandated Reporters in New York State, published by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, states that “Mandated reporters are required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment when they are presented with a reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment…”.
From there it gets somewhat murky and jargony and this is not what I want to spend a post on. Besides, as social workers, you know the deal. What I want to convey is simply this:
As human beings, we are all mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect
As this Labor Day weekend draws to a close, our children will soon begin streaming back to school. The insecurity we experience as parents and caregivers can be daunting, as they slip beyond our watchful eye for the better part of a day. Let’s be more active observers within our community of caretakers, this “village” we hear so much about. If you see or hear something unusual, something that just doesn’t fit, take notes and seek appropriate counsel—immediately. The children we love, including the ones we don’t know, need us—all of us. It doesn’t take a degree and a certificate to notice, or at least suspect, when something’s not right with a child. And while we are vigilant in our love, let’s also remain mindful of what matters to our children. The simple yet incredibly potent messages they share, dreams they implore us “big people” to turn into reality.
From two villages hundreds of miles apart—one in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the other in Charleston, South Carolina—come the hopes and dreams of the innocents in whom we will be entrusting our future. Through our actions each day let’s love our children—all our children—and work to make real the wishes they so beautifully share.
As a parent, I thank you. I am glad to know we are in this, together.
Questions for Further Consideration
1) Do you know any child who you suspect may be covertly or overtly abused (emotionally, physically, sexually)? If yes, why do you think this?
2) Do you know the local hotline number to report suspected child abuse?
3) If you could do one thing right now to become a more active and involved member of your community, what would it be?
Childhelp’s National Child Abuse Hotline / 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Comprehensive information on knowing the signs & symptoms of child abuse at:
New York State Office of Children & Family Services
Summary Guide for MANDATED REPORTERS in New York State (Pub. 1159)
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Coming from the side that goes to the schools and investigates the allegations, I would ask all mandated reporters and non mandated to please report immediately if there is any suspicion at all. When in doubt, call. We once had a teacher wait eight days to report a welt she saw on a child’s neck. By the time we got there the welt was gone, the evidence lost, and there was nothing we could do because the child was too afraid to talk and the parents denied everything.
We rely on the schools heavily. Our busiest times are when school is in because teachers are our number one reporters, more than doctors and therapists. We need timely reports and good detail regarding the suspected abuse.
Thanks for writing this, Craig!
My pleasure, Sarah. And thank you for your important elucidation.
I recognize these pictures of the peace memorial next to Charleston’s Hampton Park playground! The different tiles created by Charleston school children are so earnest and raw. They never fail to move me. Most people walk right past and don’t notice. I like that you remind us to be vigilant for each other and to guard the vulnerable among us.
It’s equally crucial to be vigilant in another sense you inadvertantly demonstrate here. Notice the little signs of uplift and hope. Nurture and share that inspiration. As caregivers, your readers especially must foster that sensitivity to sustain themselves. It’s a long journey we’re on and this attention to the small signs of hope lifts our hearts and strengthens our resilience.
Beautifully stated. Thank you, Melanie.