Child Abuse Reporting
The author of this report has been asked to create a report surrounding the subject of child abuse, what is legally required from an agency standpoint it comes to the same, confidentiality rules and so forth. The pertinent questions that will be asked are centered on a case study where an eleven-year-old boy reveals that he has been subject to words and behavior and the latter of those two is clearly illegal and abusive. The author will describe why it is necessary for the author (from an agency standpoint) to report the behavior, why it will be necessary to deal with breach of confidentiality with William (and the “how” behind the same) and how the author of this report would make up the report based on the totality of the circumstances and the facts. Finally, the author will fill out a real child abuse reporting form modeled after the event described in this report.
Before getting into how to address and deal with the victimization of William, the author of this report would first summarize and depict has occurred so that the context of the reporting to come is explained within this report. William Jones is an eleven-year-old boy that has had a total of three sessions with a local agency. During the third session, he reveals to the agency worker that his seventeen-year-old brother and some of his friends have been “talking dirty” to him. Further, they are encouraging William to look at “dirty” pictures. The brother and his friends are touching William’s private parts. Further, they are making William do similar things to them.
There are a couple of reasons this must be reported. First, if the author of the report is the confidant for William and the author is working at a local agency that deals with and addresses child abuse, this would make the author of this report what is known as a mandated reporter. The mandated reporter law, which is the law of the land in the vast majority of the United States, pertains to whom must report apparent or proven cases of child neglect or abuse. Abuse can come in the form of physical attacks or in the form of sexual molestation, sodomy, incest or rape. Mandated reporters, in many to most jurisdictions, would include social workers, teachers, school principals, other school personnel, physicians, nurses, other healthcare workers, counselors, therapists, other mental health professionals, child care providers, medical examiners, coroners and law enforcement officers. Some states (about eighteen states plus Puerto Rico) do now draw such a line and say that anyone who suspects neglect or abuse must report it. That does not apply here because the author of this report would be a mandated reporter by virtue of the author’s position. This leads into the other type of mandated reporter. There is what is known as “institutional responsibility to repor.” This type of mandated reporter refers “to those situations in which a mandated reporter is working or volunteering as a staff member of an institution such as in a school or a hospital, at which time he or she gains the knowledge that leads him or her to suspect that abuse or neglect has occurred.” In other words, both the first and third of the types of mandated reporters mentioned above would relate directly to the author because the author is working at an agency that deals with children (e.g. therapist, child abuse investigation, etc.) and thus the reporting must occur (Child Welfare, 2015).
The second main reason that the author of this report must report this matter is because there is incestuous behavior going on. At the very least, molestation is occurring from the brother. However, it could be far worse than what William has admitted thus far. There be sexual activity such as sodomy, forced oral sex and so forth. However, that is not known for sure as of yet. The third reason it must be reported is that all of the older boys in question (the brother and the others) are engaging in what is undoubtedly a crime if what William is saying is true (Child Welfare, 2015). In all fairness, it may not be true. However, it is generally unheard of for a boy that young to lie about something so foul. Unless the boy is being coached or coaxed by someone, the chances he is being authentic are extremely high. If anything, there is probably more to the story and not less. Even so, Princeton University noted as far back as 1994 that roughly four to eight percent of all child sexual abuse accusations turned out to be fabricated and false. However, it should also be noted that roughly one half of all child sex abuse cases turn up a result of “unsubstantiated” (Princeton, 1994).
However, the author of this report knows enough to realize that just because a child sex abuse report comes out “unsubstantiated” does not mean something did not happen. It just means that it could not be proven through physical evidence. It is the same principle as in the law. The saying goes “it is not what you know, it is what you can prove.” Indeed many people thought that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. However, the evidence that was knowable and provable in court did not show that according to the jury. As such, they acquitted him. When speaking of child sexual abuse cases, much the same thing happened with Michael Jackson. He was accused many times by many people but he was never convicted of doing so. However, that does not mean he did not do so.
To bring things full circle, even if everything that William said is true, there is almost certainly not going to be any physical evidence of the event(s) because simple touching would almost certainly not leave a bruise or a mark unless the touching was in the form of a strike or a slap. A full investigation should be done if possible but the likelihood of any forensic evidence coming up from such an investigation is basically zero. However, if the behavior did extend beyond what William is saying (e.g. sodomy, etc.), then there is a good chance that some physical proof would exist depending on what was done, how often it was done and how long it has been since it happened. Further, there is the disturbing possibility of what accusations could come forth from the other kids involved. Indeed, they may state that William was a willing and active participant in the behavior. They may say that William was initially accepting of the behavior but only later changed his tune. This can present an issue because it would cloud the issue of who the victim and who the criminal really is. Regardless, all of the children involved are minors (or very close to it). Things would change significantly if any of the older brother’s friends are eighteen or older. Even so, teenagers are sometimes tried as adults. Anyhow, a major point to make here is that unless an admission of guilt is made by one or more of the supposed aggressors in this apparent sexual crime, things could get very complicated if/when a criminal case is filed and a trial comes. Indeed, there was a recent study published in 2014 that looked at the influence of medical and/or behavioral evidence when it comes to conviction rates for people charged with child sexual abuse (Lewis, Klettke & Day, 2014).
As far as confidentiality goes, the author of this report has a duty to report the alleged violations. However, there is a strong chance that William was telling the author in confidence and is probably horrified at the idea of that being repeated and spread to anyone else. There is, of course, no question about whether the notification should happen from a legal perspective, a liability perspective, and from a criminal behavior perspective. If what William says happened did indeed happen, then something needs to be done about it and it would involve an investigation and the parents of all of the children involved (at a minimum) would find out what is going on. Indeed, there is a “conflict of interest” when it comes to the confidentiality of the patient (William) and what he is saying and what the author of this report (the agency employee) must do with the knowledge obtained. Even so, many assert that “child abuse if a major problem with demands social and legal response.” When a clinician treats someone that is suspected of being a victim, there is typically no breach because the transgression (alleged or real) has already been passed along. However, it is an entirely different animal when, for example, a psychotherapist is told about a child sexual abuse incident that has not been reported and that has happened recently. Regardless, what happened to William was a criminal act. In fact, there seems to have been several criminal acts committed in this instance. As such, the author would calmly state to William that what happened to him is not OK, it is never OK and that the actions need to stop. William has to be assured and counseled that he should never have to endure what he has endured and that he did the right thing by coming forward and telling the author about the abuse. True healing and reconciliation will have to come through psychotherapy and counseling. An agency employee is often not going to be trained in that and the main job of the agency is to fetter out abuse instances via the testimony of the alleged victims. Both therapists and agency employees seeking out abuse mean well. However, they are technically doing two different things (Miller, 1987).
Now it comes down to the author of this report making out the child abuse report itself. A suspected child abuse form is provided as part of this assignment and the author of this report will get into what is on there. However, the author of this report will first speak on a general level. Some of these items are on the form to be filled out while some take on different forms. However, all of the following information would be needed and relevant:
Name of the victim
Name of the victim’s parents
Name of the alleged abuser(s)
Age of the alleged abuser(s)
When the abuse started
How many instances of abuse have there been
What types of abuse occurred
Were clothes left off or on Was the action forced only through words
Was there use of physical force?
Did the abusers (if more than one) act together or on their own
Were threats made against the victim
Are there other victims?
Who else (if anyone) knows anything about the alleged events
Had the alleged victim told anyone else besides the agency person making out the report
As for the form itself, there are a few details on here that the author would specifically focus on. First, if there is any physical evidence of the abuse, it should be cataloged and documented. This could include the taking of pictures, collection of pictures taken by other people that show the abuse (during or after) and so forth. The reporting form offered for this assignment includes a few interesting details such as whether the victim is developmentally disabled, where the victim was, whose care the person was in, the language spoken of the victims and those involved and so forth. Of course, the making of the report would be just the beginning. The author of this report would personally (or commission, as appropriate) interviews with all of the boys and the parents of all the boys. This would be true if the parents are divorced or single. A profile of whether there is a history of abuse should be put together. The criminal histories of the children and the parents would all be relevant because abuse and violence are often cyclical and self-repeating. Any and all relevant information that is legal to obtain and catalog should be part of the investigation. If at all possible a confession should be garnered because such a case going to trial, assuming one can happen given the evidence, would almost certainly be absolute hell for William and thus should be avoided (Stonehouse, 1995).
The particulars and details about child sex abuse cases are always gut-wrenching. However, the mentally and morally depraved individuals that engage in such behavior must be identified, convicted and either jailed or rehabilitated. There are many who say that the latter is not possible. However, perhaps there is hope for these younger criminals.
Child Welfare. (2015). Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Childwelfare.gov. Retrieved 24 June 2015, from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/manda.pdf#page=1&view=Professionals
Required to Report
Lewis, T.E., Klettke, B., & Day, A. (2014). The Influence of Medical and Behavioral
Evidence on Conviction Rates in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse. Journal Of Child
Sexual Abuse, 23(4), 431-441. doi:10.1080/10538712.2014.896843
Miller, R.R. (1987). Conflict of Interest Between Therapist-Patient Confidentiality and the Duty to Report Sexual Abuse of Children. Behavioral Sciences & The
Law, 5(2), 161-174.
Princeton. (2015). The Future of Children. Princeton.edu. Retrieved 24 June 2015, from http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml-j ournalid=62&articleid=393§ionid=2669
Stonehouse, B. (1995). Family Violence and Children. Family Matters, (41), 45-47.