Youth Services Law

Showing 22 posts from 2011.

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Posted In Miscellaneous

to link to an article about my recent trial win. I will be back on Monday after the holidays with more in the mandated reporters series.

Mandated Reporters: An Object Lesson

I have posted previously (here, here, and here) about the perils of failing to report child abuse. Now there is another report of a lawsuit filed against a church for failing to report suspected abuse.

Mandated Reporters: Know Your Statutes

One point I forgot when I started this series is that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a website that is an excellent resource.

Mandated Reporters: Where to Report

One question that the Penn State scandal has raised is to whom mandated reporters should report.  North Carolina, for example, requires a report to county social services department.  Directors of child care facilities must report directly to the State Bureau of Investigation. Georgia also requires a report to social services or law enforcement, but allows a staff member to report to a supervisor, who then must make the report.  This practice of allowing in-house reports has received a lot of criticism lately, but it is a sensible system.

Continue reading Mandated Reporters: Where to Report ›

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

One of the consequences of the Penn State scandal is intense interest in statutes that require certain people to report suspicions of child abuse.   These "mandated reporters" are subject to a variety of penalties for failing to report, depending on the law in the specific state.  Given that interest, I decided a series of posts on the topic might be helpful.  So, follow along the next few days as I examine some of the principles involved.

Mandated Reporters: Who Should Report?

The initial question in mandated reporter statutes is who must report suspected abuse.  The two states where I am licensed, Georgia and North Carolina, are at opposite ends of the spectrum on that question.  Georgia lists specific occupations, O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, while North Carolina requires "any person or institution" to report.  N.C.G.A. § 7B-301.   Most states are on Georgia's end of the spectrum.

Who must report, however, is not the same as who should report abuse.  The best practice is for all organizations that serve young people to report suspected abuse.  That policy, of course, carries with it the obligation to train staff members to recognize abuse. Fortunately, many state agencies offer such training.

Check first with your licensing organization to see what training it offers.  Next, look at online training, such as the California Mandated Reporter Project and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  Finally, talk to organizations with a training curriculum, such as the Safe Sanctuaries program of the United Methodist Church.

Catching up with Penn State

Posted In Child Abuse

I have been in trial, and only recently have surfaced. Apparently, all sorts of interesting things happened while I was distracted, starting with the allegations about Sandusky at Penn State. I am still gathering information, so I don't have a lot of strong opinions (yet). What I have read so far, however, fits a very familiar pattern. Allegations about a trusted authority figure, reports that get garbled as they go up the chain of authority, an instinctive disbelief that such things could be happening here -- all in all, a very difficult task to sort out what actually happened. I am not surprised that the grand jury took a couple of years to work through all of the various reports.

One caution, though, about the grand jury summary. By definition, those are summaries. They leave out a lot of facts, and it is never a good idea to reach conclusions by filling in those gaps, no matter how logical it seems.

Three-Year Old Racists?

According to an article this week in the Daily Mail, a mandatory reporting policy in Britain has resulted in students as young as preschool being accused of various kinds of intolerance.  The article's claims that the children's records will follow them into adulthood may be a bit overwrought, but there is not much doubt that the labels would make their later education more difficult.  If the facts in the article are accurate, it certainly appears to be another instance of well-meaning policies combined with overly broad definitions that have harsh unintended consequences.

Resources to Prevent Bullying

At the ACA Southeastern conference yesterday, I attended an excellent workshop on prevention of bullying at camps.  In a couple of weeks, it should be available on the website. In the interim, I found some good resources at the Georgia Department of Education and CDC websites for developing policies.

I am a bit ambivalent about this new emphasis on bullying. There is no doubt that bullying can have serious consequences, and at its extremes needs to be quashed. I worry, though, that the currently popular definition may be too broad, and sweeps in low-level behavior that children need to learn to overcome as part of the growing up process. Given the recent studies indicating that low levels of stress help develop emotional stability,  I wonder if sometimes our protection of our children may deprive them of important problem-solving skills.

Teen Moodiness, Risk-Taking May Be Essential to Later Success

The upcoming issue of National Geographic has a fascinating article summarizing recent studies into teen behavior, and analyzing why the things that drive the rest of us nuts may be essential to their success as adults.

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