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Beavah

Abuse Reporting Policies

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The broader point is that there is an implicit cost/benefit calculation in any social policy, even if no one has examined it or articulated it. The present atmosphere encourages intentionally false abuse reports. This is increasingly common in ugly divorce situations.

 

Consider also the mass hysteria encouraged by local prosecutors in the pre school alleged abuse cases of the 80's. Numerous people were sent to jail on the flimsiest allegations and evidence. The major case here in California was the McMartin Preschool case in Manhatten Beach. When the case reached the jury the jury needed very little time to acquit on all charges.

 

One of Beavah's points is that sweeping policies often result in the real problems not getting the right amount of attention.

 

As an example, consider Proposition 60 here in California. Several years ago a group of environmental activists qualified a proposition for the ballot requiring businesses to notify employees and visitors to their premises that cancer causing chemicals were being used on the premises with unpredictable health consequences. The proposition passed.

 

The proposition also allowed businesses to essentially "opt out" of the notification requirement by posting a "prop 60" warning that such substances might be in use on the premises, but we don't really know. The list of substances was so broad and included substances that nobody really knew anything about, that every business took the signage option. Every place you go in California you will see these warnings. Nothing has changed. The businesses that may in fact be endangering people are still doing so. The only people that benefited were the people who made the signs.

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There is nothing in the BSA YP program that encourages or suppports reckless or false reporting. So the cost associated with that kind of behaviour is not relevant to the BSA training or to a leader's responsibility of reporting reasonable suspicions.

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BW:

 

Just to be clear, I am not disputing the YP policies of BSA or suggesting that anyone do anything else other than adhere to those policies. One of the benefits to adults of the YP policies is that the policies make it very difficult to sustain false accusations if those policies are followed.

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And just because there is nothing that encourages false reporting doesn't mean it can't happen. Not knowing the facts of a situation can lead to false reporting.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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There is nothing in the BSA YP program that encourages or suppports reckless or false reporting. So the cost associated with that kind of behaviour is not relevant to the BSA training or to a leader's responsibility of reporting reasonable suspicions.

 

Yah, BobWhite, this is da politics forum, eh? It's an OT thread about the public policy issue of laws mandating that fellow citizens report on each other to the authorities, and whether those are good and useful laws or not.

 

It isn't about da BSA Program at all (except perhaps the extent to which such laws impact us positively or negatively).

 

B

 

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It's getting late!

Maybe I'm missing something?

But...

Maybe before we look at all this "Reporting"?

Taking a long hard look at what is being reported? Would be in order?

To this end- If there is such a thing as "Over reporting"?

Is there such a thing as "Under Reporting"?

 

I think everyone would agree that False Reports, which are used as some form of malice tool are just plain wrong.

 

I personally think even in the BSA some people go a bit too far, wanting everything to somehow come back to a YP issue. Even when common sense would show that it's not.

 

If we look at child abuse as an assault which is a crime, then surely just like any other crime we should report it? This isn't making average citizens part of law enforcement. It's about people (Some who are not citizens!) doing what they should be doing -Reporting crimes.

 

For my part I hope that anyone who sees someone acting in a suspicious way entering my home would call the police -I don't care if it is OJ and he has forgotten his keys! I'll just be happy that someone is looking out for me.

Is this really and different than reporting a suspicion of child abuse?

Eamonn.

 

 

 

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Is this really and different than reporting a suspicion of child abuse?

 

I'd say "yes."

 

If I'm your neighbor, and someone I don't know is breaking into your home, I don't have suspicion of a crime. I'm witnessing a crime. There is no legal obligation to report, but we all would appreciate it if our neighbors did.

 

Now, if any of us witnessed child abuse (a father beating the crap out of his kid), I rather reckon we'd call the cops, eh? If we didn't take matters into our own hands on the spot.

 

But we're not talkin' about witnessing child abuse or a firsthand report by a kid. We're talkin' about suspicion based on our observations of the child one meeting a week, one outing a month. Makin' guesses based on bruising, poor hygiene or clothing, behaviors like withdrawal or overt compliance, sleep disorders, or a lad bein' defiant. Sadness, sensitivity to teasing, low self-esteem, etc. (I'm just readin' signs and symptoms from Online YPT).

 

We're tellin' people to make reports based on these things, eh?

 

Now, a medical or educational professional with training and experience, I think that has some costs but it at least makes sense. A trained professional who has seen a lot of kids in the ER over the years will recognize the patterns of bruising or injury that are unusual. An education professional with training and experience of a wide range of children can be presumed to reasonably identify behavior combinations that are unusual, and thereby have reasonable suspicion which is helpful to authorities.

 

But do we really want everyone to be required to report to authorities based on the signs I mentioned? I'm not sure an average neighbor can tell da difference between a bruise from fallin' off a bike and a bruise from gettin' hit by dad. But if the neighbor doesn't report, he could go to jail?! That's what some states are doin', eh?

 

It's a tough place to be in as a neighbor!

 

Beavah

 

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"If I'm your neighbor, and someone I don't know is breaking into your home, I don't have suspicion of a crime. I'm witnessing a crime."

 

You can't say that you are witnessing a crime, you can only say that you might be witnessing a crime because you have no way of know if that person has permission to be breaking in.

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Perhaps another way to state what I think Beavah is getting at is that in any system of reporting, the risk of false reporting is a cost. That risk--and that cost--increases the broader you make the duty to report, and the more untrained people have an obligation to report.

Let's imagine that a law is passed that requires you to call the police if you have a reasonable suspicion that somebody is breaking into your neighbor's house. If you don't report, you can be punished. I think this will result in a lot of false reporting, when the neighbor's son comes home in the middle of the night, when the UPS man comes, when the neighbor's dog inexplicably starts barking, etc. While there might be more accurate reports, you have to ask whether the increase in false reports are worth it.

And while this is not really about BSA's YPT requirements, it can be about state laws that apply to us as youth leaders.

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"bruising, poor hygiene or clothing, behaviors like withdrawal or overt compliance, sleep disorders, or a lad being' defiant. Sadness, sensitivity to teasing, low self-esteem, etc. "

Wow There have been times when OJ has showed several of these signs.

I can't talk for everyone, but in my case I think I'd need reasonable suspicion.

Just about every kid I know will at some time show at least some of these signs. Many of us are nosy enough to want to know a little more.

We would ask the kid, "Hey that's a nasty bruise you got there John, how did you get it?"

If John tells us that his Dad punched him. We don't have prove that Dad did indeed punch him, but we do have a reasonable suspicion.

It might be that we (Me) notices a pattern of abuse and neglect and when we talk with the kid something just doesn't seem right -Call it a gut feeling.

I disagree with you when you talk about the person entering a home. When you report it you don't know if he has permission or not to be on that ladder!!

I'm guessing if it's 2:30 AM, it's reasonable to suspect that a crime is taking place. If it's during the day and there is a big van marked Joe's Window Cleaning Service -Maybe not so much?

The argument that reporting overtaxes the system, doesn't sit well with me. If the system doesn't work we fix it. I'm not sure how you do the math, in the short term it might seem that we are spending more money. But maybe in the long term early reporting does save money. Removing a kid from harm, not only protects the kid, it also protects the abuser from further actions which might result in prosecution for more serious crimes - It costs over $40k a year to house an inmate in PA. Two people not going to jail is about the cost of keeping someone on the hotline.(Maybe -I'm guessing!!)

I have tried not to allow emotions to come into this, but surely we as a society have a duty to protect and serve the people in our society who are most vulnerable? The young and the old.

I really don't think we are in any way tossing the rights of others out the window, when we act in good faith doing what is needed to protect and serve them.

If more money or more resources are needed? I feel sure that there are areas when some spending can be cut. Or if need be a couple of extra dollars on a carton of smokes?

Investing in the health and welfare of young people is never a bad thing to do.

Here in PA, we already have a far better child health care insurance package than the one the president first vetoed.

I'm at an age where retirement is looming up on me! OJ jokingly reminds me that he will be the one who picks what nursing home I'll end up in -He might be right but the kids we serve today are the people who I'm going to have to depend on in my old age -They will be the nurses, hairdressers, doctors and garbage men that I'm going to need.

Protecting them is a wise investment.

Ea.

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I was the one who heard the Child Abuse worker say they would rather inverstigate 10 "false" reports than have one be missed,

 

So, with that I have to add we know that when a person reports a suspected abuse, the person taking the call has the phone numeber used to make the report, even if no name is used. If the same number makes the same report multiple times and the report is always false, that is a different situation entirely. That is over burdening the system and perhaps when a real case is suspected, the fact the number has been used to report so many false alarms, the real one could be not handled quickly.

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On the question of whether there's a point where malicious over-reporting is stopped...

 

...a good friend of ours has two children from a previous marriage. The situation is seriously disfunctional.

 

The father admits that he made several reports to children's services - and that he convinced his parents to make reports too. There were three investigations in three years. No issues were found in any of the investigations.

 

After the third case, the case worker stated that she was flagging their file, such that only reports from teachers, doctors, police, and other state mandated reporters would be investigated. They also told the father that if he filed another report, he would be prosecuted for filing a false police report.

 

So...there's at least some protections for this sort of thing in some states.

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So...there's at least some protections for this sort of thing in some states.

 

Yes and no, kadeira. Those folks risk losing their jobs and even being prosecuted themselves if they don't follow up on a report, flagged file or no flagged file. Often it's a "bluff", to try to get the person to stop.

 

Many of us are nosy enough to want to know a little more. We would ask the kid, "Hey that's a nasty bruise you got there John, how did you get it?"

 

And yet trainin' is pretty specific, eh? It's not our job to investigate, and we should not be playin' investigator. Just report. Someone just followin' the trainin' is going to report on the nasty bruise.

 

There really aren't that many detectives and case workers, eh? In many small cities, the cops don't even bother to investigate half the burglaries because they don't have enough manpower. It doesn't take more than 1% of da population deciding to "play it safe" and report the quiet, shy, sad kid to swamp the system. And da folks you recommended letting out of jail to save money for more investigators, well, they've committed a lot of these crimes, eh? :(

 

Let's face it, most citizens will report anything they find genuinely disturbing without the need for any legal requirement that they do so. I reckon not a single person on these forums, nor any of our neighbors or coworkers would hesitate for as long as a heartbeat droppin' a dime if they felt a child was really at risk or things might be genuinely amiss. That's a fine thing. Same with professionals, eh?

 

So mandated reporting really only adds additional reports on top of those. That might not be all that helpful, eh?

 

Yah, then there's da final, coldest observation. The only societies that have mandated that neighbors report on other neighbors or face jail themselves have been societies we would consider "evil." There's a reason for that, eh? It's a mechanism that is easily abused, and plays to people's prejudices and fears. Protestants suspicious of Catholic priests (well, a lot of 'em are abusers, aren't they?). Atheists suspicious of Scouters (just look at Merlyn). Everyone suspicious of Mormons. :) All of 'em told they must report their suspicions, it's their duty under the law, if they don't they'll face jail. And yeh can count on a fair number of citizens saying "a citizen is Obedient, and follows the law as written, reporting all suspicions!" ;)

 

And when yeh have that many reports, the government gets to pick and choose who gets investigated or prosecuted. Based on whatever agenda or latent prejudices they happen to have, eh? Yeh don't imagine for a minute, do you, that a died-in-the-wool Republican won't be just a little bit tempted to take a look at those reports on folks who are Democrats? or vice versa? That Hillary's folks won't leak that there was once a "suspicion" report about Obama and that he was investigated for child abuse? Or even file one, just for that purpose? That when OJ someday changes jobs a new level of background check doesn't pop up such a "suspicion" report on him, submitted by his nosy neighbor "just following the law."

 

Yah, it's an effective mechanism for breaking down trust between people and creating a culture of fear. And a culture of fearful people always supports the State. IMO, yeh gotta look at unintended consequences and costs when considerin' the merits of a public policy.

 

Beavah

 

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"Let's face it, most citizens will report anything they find genuinely disturbing without the need for any legal requirement that they do so."

 

Although I agree with a lot of what you say, I'm not so sure I agree with what's stated above. I think I do want some people--people with training--to know that they have a legal responsibility to report.

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