Youth Services Law

Showing 3 posts from January 2012.

Problem-solving, not self-esteem

The Washington Post ran a very interesting article over the weekend about the move away from lavishing praise on children for participation rather than accomplishments.  Recent research has shown deep flaws in the decades-old belief that we need to praise children in order to boost their self-esteem.  The article cited the 2006 Brookings study showing that American students had only average math skills compared to international students, but had much higher confidence about their abilities. Unearned praise actually may hinder learning, causing children to become complacent and shy away from challenges.

The new paradigm rewards students for conquering challenges and learning new skills.  This seems to be a good principle for any youth-serving organization.  While we want children to feel self-confident, they learn that best from actual achievement.  The goal is to give them reachable, measurable goals, and then praise them for reaching those.

Mandated Reporting: When to Report

The final and most difficult question in mandated reporting is knowing when to report suspicions.  North Carolina law requires a report when the mandated reporter has "cause to suspect" abuse, while Georgia requires "reasonable cause to believe" that a child has been abused.  But what is "cause"?

There are only two definite red flags for abuse -- a third party witness or disclosure from the child.  Everything else is what I call "pink flags," because the signs are ambiguous and always could have an innocent cause.  Nevertheless, they are important to know, because enough of the signs can add up to a requirement to report.

Continue reading Mandated Reporting: When to Report ›

Mandated Reporting: What to Report

The next question is knowing what to report to the authorities. There may be a difference between what you MUST report, and what you SHOULD report. North Carolina law, for example, requires reports only of abuse by a "parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker." Yet, it clearly would be best practices for a child care institution to report suspected abuse by a staff member or third party as well as parents. Georgia, by contrast, requires reports of physical injury or neglect by a parent or caretaker, and sexual abuse or exploitation by anyone.

Another question is the type of abuse that is covered. North Carolina lists physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and allowing or encouraging serious delinquent acts. Georgia, by contrast, lists only physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.

Some states are considering whether to include exposure to domestic violence as a type of abuse, but to my knowledge, none has yet included it. If you learn of domestic violence, nevertheless, you should consider reporting it, as it is a strong indicator of possible abuse.

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