Mandated ReportersIf you suspect abuse, report it
By Lala Fogarty
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Suspect abuse? Report it. If not because it’s the right thing to do, then at least for the direct consequences that may come your way if you don’t. Consider this as told by WCTV Eyewitness news in Florida:
“A Tallahassee teacher has been found guilty of not reporting child sex abuse.
Police arrested Sunshine Jacobs-Fenimore in March. She worked at the Magnolia School on West Tharpe Street.
A 12-year-old child at the school allegedly told Jacobs and two other teachers that she had been sexually abused. The teachers are accused of not notifying the Department of Children and Families. A third local teacher accused of failing to report child abuse has been arrested, and the suspect himself is also behind bars.
This comes after two other teachers from The Magnolia School on West Tharpe Street in Tallahassee were also arrested last month.
62-year-old Sharon McQueen was arrested this morning. She is charged with failure to report child abuse, neglect and abandonment. Police reports say that in January, a girl at the school told one of the women that she was being sexually abused.
The teachers then met with the girl’s family to draw up a safety plan to prevent future abuse, but did not report the alleged abuse to the Department of Children and Families Hotline, as required by law.”
Most of us can come up with many reasons, or justifications in order to turn the other way and avoid the confrontation that comes with acknowledging child abuse. But next time, before you choose to look the other way, think about this – is it worth criminal charges? More importantly, isn’t a child’s safety more important than your inconvenience? Isn’t a child’s health and well-being more important than someone else’s hurt feelings or embarrassment? Isn’t a child’s welfare more important than your level of discomfort?
Reporting abuse of any sort is only a phone call away. The child who disclosed to you trusted you enough to come to you for help. Don’t let him or her down. Report the incident to the police or child protective services in your area. Tell what the child said to you and give whatever details you can provide to the police or child protective services, including the child’s name and address. For help, please call 1-800-4- A- CHILD to report abuse or suspected abuse. To find a child advocacy center near you, contact the National Children’s Alliance 1-800-239-9950.
Will you choose to report? Because like it or not, once a child discloses abuse, you already are involved and whether you are a mandated reporter or not, hopefully you see reporting as your obligation to not only the child but also society as a whole. Child abuse only stops when WE stop it through prevention, intervention, and recovery.