Youth Services Law

Showing 313 posts by Deborah A. Ausburn.

Shutdowns and Child Care Centers

Coronavirus

In the last 24 hours, we have seen three shutdown orders, only two of which affect Georgia child care centers. Under Mayor Bottom’s order, Atlanta residents are confined to their homes, but the order specifically exempts child care centers as essential businesses.  The mayor of Savannah’s order exempts child care centers providing services to employees of other exempt businesses and has several restrictions.  

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Mandated Reporting: Unsupervised Children

child running in neighborhood across crosswalk

One vexing question in the mandated reporter area is when to report children who appear to have no adults supervising them. It is more difficult than most situations of abuse or neglect because there is a growing body of research that children need unsupervised time to develop into psychologically healthy adults.

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Mandated Reporting: Emotional Abuse

mother criticising daughter

One area of mandated reporting that is included in most state statutes but rarely explained is emotional abuse. I see emotional abuse listed often in training programs, but there is little discussion of what it looks like or when to report. I also have seen no prosecutions for failure to report emotional abuse. Nevertheless, emotional abuse is a mandated reporter’s responsibility in most states.

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Mandated Reporting: More Cautionary Tales

Teddy Bear hiding eyes

I’ve run across several news reports that illustrate how strictly authorities are applying mandated reporter laws. In this case from Colorado, a stepfather allegedly told a school principal that a school social worker had inappropriately touched a nine-year-old child. I have not been able to find any description of what the stepfather actually said, but the judge stated that “it was very difficult to discern” what the report was. Nevertheless, according to this account, the judge decided that the principal had “reasonable cause” to believe abuse had occurred.

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Mandated Reporting: Consensual Sexual Play

group of children playing

One question that I often hear from child care centers is whether we are required to report sexual play between children. As usual, the question is “it depends.” Some types of sexual play are normal and developmentally appropriate, and warrant nothing more than redirection and teaching about social norms. Other types can be signals of sexual abuse and require more formal intervention. We don’t want to miss signals of abuse, but neither do we want to overreact to normal child development.

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Mandated Reporting: Teens and Sex

Teenager texting

Organizations working with teenagers face questions of sexual behavior in several different situations. The most common issues that I see are (1) “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit photos to each other, (2) horseplay that turns sexual, and (3) consensual sex. Whether these require a report to authorities or only an internal response depends on several different circumstances.

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Mandated Reporting: Neglect

Young boy running on road alone to school

One of the most difficult areas to navigate in mandated reporting issues is when to report neglect of a child. The laws are definite that you must report suspected neglect, but no one quite knows how to define it. Georgia, for example, does not define “neglect” in its mandated reporter law, but child protection authorities have adopted the definition from Georgia custody law of “failure to provide proper ... control necessary for a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals.”

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Mandated Reporter Requirements: General Principles

Teacher helping students

Every state has its own requirements for mandated reporters, but there are a few general principles underlying all of the various formulations. For example, some states list specific jobs as mandated reporters, while other states list every adult as a mandated reporter. Whatever your state, if you work with minors, you are almost certainly a mandated reporter. You can check the specific requirements for your state on the website for the state child protection authorities, or at this website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Coronavirus Precautions

Posted In Current Events

Parent helping sneezing child

The new coronavirus is a hot topic right now, and I’ve heard some concerns from school and childcare centers about the best way to handle it. There currently are few reported cases in the U.S., but the virus does spread quickly.

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Men in Early Childhood Education

Male teacher

One of the unfortunate side effects of increased awareness of child sexual abuse is increased stereotyping of men who work in early childhood education. I have lost count of the many times that clients have told me, “I never hire men to work with children because the risk is too high.” That attitude is understandable, but unfortunate both for men who would be good teachers and children who miss out on a good male role model.

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