Saturday, July 25, 2009
What's the matter here?
I just finished a workshop on Child Abuse Reporting, which is part of my license requirement as a psychotherapist.
The instructor shared this video in class and remembering what it was like in the pre-Internet days (yes, try hard to imagine it, young'uns), I have to say I'm grateful I can embed and share the video with my readers.
What struck me the most about this video (which does not contain hard-to-watch footage of any sort) were two things:
1) That children (as well as the elderly and dependent adults) rely on those with the power to be heard to speak up.
2) It's important to do something, and it's hard to do something if you don't know what to do. One out of five Americans are concerned about child abuse, but don't do anything about it.
I have been a mandated reporter of child abuse in the past, and I am preparing to be one in the future. Even if I weren't one, I would still use my voice to help those who have been silenced.
This is not to say that I'm out to get children snatched from their homes or that I think abuse or neglect makes parents bad people. (Neglect, by the way, is the most reported and substantiated form of child abuse--not physical, sexual, or mental abuse.)
On the contrary, I think in many (not all) situations, families need support to be better families. Parents need skills to be better parents, or maybe help getting into rehab, or whatever--but it isn't a simple case of blame and punish (talk about abusive!) it's about support and educate.
If you know what your goals are, your path becomes clearer.
Long post short, if you reasonably suspect child abuse, please do something. You don't have to be a mandated reporter, and you can (and legally will) remain anonymous.
You can call your local police or look in the phone book or Internet and get the number for Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services (or Adult Protective Services for elders and dependent adults). If you're in California, the Department of Social Services is a great place to start.
It's not just somebody else's kid and none of your business. I know it's uncomfortable. I know it might make you angry or sad. But if you make that call, somebody's life, somebody's childhood, and somebody's family could be saved.
In Santa Cruz County, call (831) 454-CARE (2273).