I love mandated reporting. I really deeply appreciate the fact that it is not my job to decide whether abuse is actually happening or if it’s “bad enough” to deal with. I don’t have to worry about making a big deal out of nothing or about shrugging off something serious. We’re legally required to err on the side of protecting the kids at all times. If you hear or suspect anything at all, you report it. End of story. No judgment call to be made.
But still, reporting suspected abuse keeps me up at night. Did I catch it soon enough? Is there another kid in a similar situation right in front of my eyes? What if it’s serious and social services ignores me? What if it’s not serious and they don’t ignore me? What if they talk to the parents, let themselves be convinced there’s no problem, and then the kid gets beaten to a pulp when they leave? Is the kid going to be mad at me? Did I break trust or earn it? Can good parents lose custody in a bad judgment call? Are bad parents ever better than foster homes? Is there another detail I should have added that would make social services take up the case? Are they the kind of parents who know how to hurt where no one will see it? Where’s the line between spanking and beating? Will the kid be brave enough to repeat the story I heard? Are my kids safe at home tonight??
Why can’t people just love and protect their own children?