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Beavah

Abuse Reporting Policies

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Someone in da parent thread commented on how a Children's Services worker made a claim "I'd rather conduct 10 false investigations than miss one positive one". That's a very human and compassionate position. I think all of us share FScouter's bias that ethically we do what we can to protect innocent children, and we're willing to assume certain risks as individuals in that regard.

 

But public policy positions also have to balance costs, eh? There's a bit of debate on whether the mandatory reporting statutes actually improve things or make them worse. There is a cost to overreporting. That cost is Children's Service workers mired in investigations so that they get to real cases more slowly, or can't offer the attention that kids in trouble really need. Lots of investigations become cursory as people try to get through da backlog. There are only so many staff hours and so many dollars, eh? How many reports of botched child protection have you read about because of overworked Children's Services staff? I know I've seen plenty.

 

There are other costs to reporting statutes. In the beginning, mandatory reportin' was limited to trained professionals, who had a professional sense of what "reasonable suspicion" really means. Some states have moved to "everyone" being mandated reporters. "Everyone," however, is not a trained child care or medical professional. That leads to overreporting.

 

More important, there's a real cost to making average citizens part of law enforcement. Anyone who has read about Mao's China or Stalin's Russia has read about how neighbors were required to spy on and report their neighbors for various crimes; even children and family members required to report suspicions of their parents or relatives. It can be a scary thing, ripe for abuse. We see that kind of abuse in reports, eh? People who don't believe white parents should adopt minority children reporting their "suspicion", etc.

 

For that matter, there's a real risk even for mandating professional reporters - how many kids might be denied medical care or kept out of school because their parents are worried about being falsely reported ? I've certainly heard reports of parents who choose to occasionally spank their children (in non-abusive ways) keepin' their kids homeschooled for fear the teachers and the government would try to take their children.

 

As with most things, da world is a complex place, eh? There's often other aspects to things that need to be balanced. When considerin' the merits of a law or policy, it's best to look beyond the one-sided arguments of da lobbyist or enthusiast who's toutin' its (potential) benefits, and look at the costs and consequences. And we should be very cautious about requirin' people to report their neighbors to the authorities based on suspicion. I reckon we should be able to protect kids without that, eh?

 

Just da humble opinion of a furry critter, is all. What's yours?

 

Beavah

 

 

 

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While I agree with Beavah that over reporting can have a negative impact on the intended result, I have to side with FScouter. I can not allow myself to worry about the case load of Child Services, the courts or the penal system when deciding whether to report a possible crime. I do not see child molesters behind every bush and don't consider every type of physical contact to be abusive. When I am caused to stand up and take notice of some incident and have to ask myself if something is just not right I am already on the road to reasonable suspicion in my book. When I do YP training I ask my participants who they would rather face; angry parents that have been investigated and probably embarrassed because you had their child's best interest in mind or a child that had to suffer continued abuse because you were afraid you were mistaken. Is my discomfort and embarrassment a higher price to pay than the effects of continued abuse when the child knows that I saw what was happening and did nothing? Isn't it reasonable to think that my failure to act, in the eyes of the child, adds to the affects of the abuse?

LongHaul

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Yah, just to be clear, eh?

 

I think LongHaul's position, as well as FScouter's, is a very human and compassionate one. It's one that I would expect all of us to take. It's certainly the one I would take myself.

 

My hope for this thread is different, eh? It's a thread about public policy, not personal choice, which is why I put it over here in da Politics forum.

 

One can be an advocate for doing things personally, while at the same time not being an advocate for a law that requires everyone to do that same thing under penalty of fines or incarceration. Or at least maybe you can :). For example, I think it's great to stop and help people on the side of the road. But then, I'm a licensed EMT-W. I wouldn't support a law that required everyone to stop and assist at an accident. That, in fact, would create a dangerous mess more often than not. :p

 

So I'm interested in thoughts about reporting as public policy.

 

Beavah

 

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On that note I agree that mandates usually do more harm than good. The wording of the law contains the word "reasonable" and we all should be able to agree that not everyone is reasonable. Mandatory reporting without mandatory training is asking for problems. We can't even agree on who is a mandatory reporter let alone what constitutes reasonable suspicion.

LongHaul

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A Scout is Helpful, A Scout is Brave.

 

It is a sad condition of our society that people would witness any crime and not report it, but as we know if strong charater and ethical decision making was a natural occuring component of human nature then ideals of Scouting would not be as unique as they apparently are.

 

If it takes State or Federal law to compel people to report the suspicion of Child Abuse, and it protects even one child from this atrocity, then I welcome the law.

 

 

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Fine...change the word 'witness' to 'suspect'.

 

It is a sad condition of a society if a person has reason to supect a crime has taken place and not report it. Especially when the crime is against a child. As leaders who have contact with over 2 million youth in our country we are in a unique opportunity to be aware of physical and sexual crimes being committed against youth. Yet There are people (or so Beavah suggets) who would be more concered with the cost of investigating those reports rather than be concerned over the number of children that could be helped.

 

It would appear that the 29% of trained direct contact leaders would include Youth protection training as well as basic leader training.

 

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There are people (or so Beavah suggets) who would be more concered with the cost of investigating those reports rather than be concerned over the number of children that could be helped.

 

Yah, I'm curious, BobWhite. Are you strongly in favor of the expansion of da Children's Health Insurance Program (the one that Bush recently vetoed)?

 

Those that oppose that would naturally be the ones worrying about costs of another entitlement program, and the increased tax/debt burden for the nation "over the number of children that could be helped." Are yeh ready for da tax increase to fund it, or should we put it on the National Debt charge card and bill our grandkids? :)

 

Are yeh in favor of open borders for all immigrants from anywhere? Those that oppose such a notion would naturally be the ones more concerned about the social costs of such a policy "over the number of children that could be helped." Are yeh ready to have 'em move into your neighborhood and business?

 

In favor of doubling your tax millage for schools? Or do yeh worry about costs "over the number of children that could be helped."

 

For that matter, do yeh believe in allowing children to ride bicycles? Bicycles are one of da major causes of serious injury and death among kids, eh? Are you in favor of banning bicycle use for anyone under age 18? Because "if it could save just one child's life...."? A heck of a lot of children's lives would be saved by banning bicycles.

 

"If it could save one child's life" and "thinking of costs over the lives of children who could be helped" are Lobbyist Language, eh? It's emotional spin designed to portray someone else's position as malign so as to advance a special interest agenda.

 

Costs of policies, both fiscal and social, are a fact of life, eh? Yeh have to take 'em into account and address 'em as part of the evaluation of the policy. Now, yeh still might end up favorin' the policy. The costs may be worth it. But for me, I don't reckon I've done my job as a Mentally Awake citizen unless I've gone past the lobbyist hype and at least looked at the costs.

 

Given Social Services with a limited and fixed budget, and the reactions of people to mandatory reportin', there's a fair chance that these reportin' laws made it worse for kids at risk. They're fairly recent, and it's hard to tell. But lookin' at costs ain't being uncaring. Quite the opposite. It's what yeh need to do in order to be able to do the right thing.

 

Beavah

(edited to remove acronyms)(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I am strongly in favor of children not being abused, and I am glad that the BSA has for many years now been a leader in training their volunteers to recognize signs of child physical and sexual abuse and taking action to protect those children.

 

I really do not care what it costs, I find it disgusting that some adults might put the cost of protecting children over the ethics of stopping child abuse.

 

But thanks for asking for my opinion.

BW

 

 

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I really do not care what it costs, I find it disgusting that some adults might put the cost of protecting children over the ethics of stopping child abuse.

 

Yah, this is really fascinatin', eh? Of course the point was that the mandatory reportin' policies might not work at all. But let's stick with costs. I'm learnin' a lot about the way some folks look at things.

 

Yeh dodged all my other questions, so I'll try this one last attempt.

 

Statistically, men are far more likely to be abusers than women, particularly of Boy Scout-aged boys. Married men of course most likely.

 

Since fiscal and social cost is no object, do you favor banning all male leaders from Boy Scout Troops? Or at least all married male leaders? It would undoubtedly save many boys from abuse within the Scouting program. Or is the cost of having some abused kids every year in Scouting worth it in order for a lot of other kids to have positive male role models?

 

I won't get in to the publicity and FOS losses from banning male leaders. ;)

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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"Since fiscal and social cost is no object, do you favor banning all male leaders from Boy Scout Troops?

 

That's ridiculous, and totally defies any logic since the scout comes in contact with far more adult males in his life than the scout leader. If the unit enforces the YP barriers to abuse the chances of the abusive behavior taking place from a scout leader or in a scouting activity are practically impossible. It is only when the barriers are not used that the potential of abuse during scouting becomes a possibility.

 

Rather than ban male leaders, we simply need leaders who understand how to identify signs of abuse and report it, and to maintain the YP barriers within the unit program. And that comes through recruiting and trainin quality people. The BSA explains that in their Youth Protection Training, available on-line.

 

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I agree with Bob that child abuse is a horrible crime & the cost of prosecuting child abusers should not make any difference. Anyone that knowingly abuses a child should, well, you know.

 

I have heard similar things about parents who use spanking as a disciplinary method that are afraid they will be reported as child abusers when they aren't. A parent should be allowed to spank their child if the child misbehaves. Heck, when I was growing up & I stepped out of line, I would get a whack and I wasn't abused as a child.

 

Child abuse is a heinous thing but sometime a difficult thing to know is happening.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Right now at my church, we have been tasked to create a new updated child protection policy. Although it will include some rules and background checks, the exact parameters are not mandated by the denomination. As I have been mulling over the options, it is clear to me that as you increase your certainty of protection, the cost and disruption to other elements of your program increase. For example, there is a suggestion that there should always be at least two adults in any class with children or youth (a requirement not imposed by BSA, by the way). There is a cost to this requirement, though, when it is difficult to get enough Sunday School teachers for even one adult in each class.

Also, there are different levels of background check, with different costs. Do you require costly checks for every person who even casually has contact with children and youth, or only those with regular contact? (Note that BSA requires background checks for all registered leaders, but parents may go on outings without having background checks.) You could do much more extensive background checks than BSA does--interview neighbors, ask to see Internet logs, etc.--this would cost a lot of money, and would alienate some potential leaders who didn't have anything to hide. Where do you draw the line?

And how do you use the info you get from the background check? Do you exclude anybody who has ever been convicted of any crime? There's a cost if you do that. Some people decline to give out their Social Security Numbers as a matter of principle--if you have to exclude those people as leaders, it's a cost.

I mention this because it becomes obvious when you're developing a new or revised policy that you have to balance the potential benefits against the costs (and the costs are not just monetary). It's really no different when you look at an existing policy and ask questions about whether the costs it imposed are justified by the benefits.

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Hunt,

 

You've hit the vital issues. Each of them must be addressed at the local organization (church/clubs/Scouts/school), the State (since only States can pass laws which create felonies... I've not heard of any US State delegating this power to its Counties or Cities), and the National (US Federal) level... WHEN THE FEDERAL INTEREST lies under the Commerce Clause.

 

There are lots of trade-offs. What's the bill-payer for a church SS if the parish council mandates two teachers in the classroom? To whom and how does a group say "you cannot be a direct contact youth leader? (I'd argue a registered sex offender is almost certainly on the list, but a tax fraud offender may well be off the list).

 

I know my church had a youth protection program which arrived in the mail one day, for mandatory, no-negotiation implementation: It was from our liability carrier. Using it had been written into the annual policy renewal. Our parish president and pastors (both facilties) hands were tied. BTW, the next year we went shopping for a new liability carrier... one that helped design a youth protection package. It seems our old carrier required us to use the law as written in its State of Incorporation... not our location on the ground. Kinda sorta different.

 

I know that Missour's Children's Services would have people err on the side of over-reporting; they say so on their website.

 

To me, the State and Federal problem is: What resources do we appropriate to support the policy? Not enough $$$ implies less than ideal support of the law.

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Over reporting.. In our area it has contributed to the deaths of a few kids. This cause the state to step in and revamp the investigating entity. 

 

I  believe in reporting it you think something is going on. Part of the problem around here is those that use it as a threat. I have some (distant) In-law types that use the threat of reporting as a means of controlling their adult kids.(It appears to be a common thing in this area) Example:  If the adult kid wants to move away from them, the parent say they will turn the adult kids in for abusing their kids, even when nothing is going on. I would like to see this type of over-reporting punished.

 

This type of reporting can cause the investigators to develop a cry wolf reaction to many reports so real abuse may get overlooked or brushed off.  Just be careful that people dont over do the reportings.

 

Does anyone have any statistics on investigations/ convictions of any direct contact Scouters? I remember  one in Nationals office but do not recall any direct contact ones. Just interested to see if the YP program may be working.

 

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