Witnessing abuse - what do you do? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-14-2010, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure what to do. There was a client at my job today who was seen beating his child, screaming at him and threatening to break his arms off. The child had knocked a small shelf off the wall - no big deal to us - and his father proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. The child huddled up and covered himself to protect himself from the blows. The father was also heard threatening the child, verbally abusing him and telling him that if he touched anything else he would break his arms. And then he beat him again. I was not there when this happened. They told me about it when I arrived at work a few hours later. Quite a few of my co-workers witnessed this event. Everyone was shaken and sickened by it. They're all very upset. I asked what they did about it. Answer: nothing. No call to the police. Nothing. Management will not allow anyone to say anything about it. We could get in trouble if we try to report it. So now everyone who witnessed it won't report it. I'm so upset. I wanted to vomit when I heard about it. If I had been there...I can assure you I would have been fired today. I feel like I can't refrain from trying to do something now that I know about it. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 07-14-2010, 12:43 AM
 
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I was having coffe at a Denny's with a friend once and a table of a woman, a man and three young kids sat across the room from us. No other tables had people. The dad started talking really loudly and raised his hand and struck hard down into the booth a few times, it was hard enough that I thought for certain he was hitting the booth. But, then a small kid sat back up, teary-eyed but silent and I knew he'd been hit. Probably not the smartest thing to do but I got up & went to their table and told him that its not ok and turned to the row of kids in the booth and told them that him hitting was not ok, then I went outside to cool off & could see them thru the window & called the local police from my cell phone. The dad could see me in the parking lot on my phone. I didn't see him hit anymore then... but I'm sure I may have made things worse for those poor babies when they got home. The police said they were sending a car, but my friend got freaked and made us leave before the cops got there. It was many many years ago and I can still hear the thud from that man's hand as he struck. I still see that kid's eyes.

Signing on to tell you that but to also hear of a more productive way that I could have handled that.

"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:43 AM
 
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Well if he's doing it in a public setting in front of people, he's likely doing it elsewhere.

If you have their name and address, you can make an anonymous call, you won't have to give your name or any other identifying information.

And if anyone at your job asked around, you could simply say what I said above, about how he's likely doing it elsewhere and who knows who might have made the call.

Plus, I'm sure it's illegal for you to lose your job for reporting child abuse.
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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I am totally appalled that no one called the cops or stepped in to stop this, even more appalled at your employer. DH says what they are asking is probably illegal. I'd call the cops anyway, especially if ya'll have security tapes.

ETA: Was this at a store? All the Target's around here have signs posted saying that the cops must investigate all incidences on their property. If the man committed a crime and they are covering up, that can't be good for them.
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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Ugh That poor baby. I have no advice, just makes me sick to my stomach.

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Old 07-14-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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Report it. DO NOT WAIT. Tomorrow is the perfect day to investigate it as the child will surely have marks from the beating.
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:07 AM
 
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Unfortunately, if you did not witness it, I am not sure you can report it to authorities. You can encourage those who did witness to report though. And I think a discussion with the next level up (from those who weren't allwoing the witnesses to report it) is a good idea. Honestly, I would not be comfortable continuing to work for a place that reacted like that, and I would probably be going into the discussion prepared to tender a 2 week notice. I would go in asking for reassurance that what I was hearing from others (without naming ANY names) wasn't what was actually happening and wanting reasurrance that there was actually something being done, that the others misunderstood. And if there WAS support being shown for the coverup you describe, then I would turn in a two week notice.

JMHO.
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I am going to make a call first thing tomorrow. I may walk over to the police station. I instantly thought that if he is so comfortable doing THAT in front of people then God only knows how bad it is behind closed doors. I am so unbelievably pissed off at management. We are not a store and we don't have cameras, unfortunately. All I know is that the minute I can quit this job (hopefully in a few months time - money is too tight ).I will be gone. Interesting to know it's probably illegal for management to pressure us not to say anything. I can definitely see them firing someone if they knew we made a report. I will make this known to my co-workers. I went on quite a rant at work and stated several times how disgusted I am that everyone stayed silent.

Actually...I may not call tomorrow. I just found out that my county has an after hours child abuse helpline.

Dumb question - do I tell them that I heard about this secondhand or do I fib and say I saw it happen?

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Old 07-14-2010, 02:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post
Unfortunately, if you did not witness it, I am not sure you can report it to authorities. You can encourage those who did witness to report though. And I think a discussion with the next level up (from those who weren't allwoing the witnesses to report it) is a good idea. Honestly, I would not be comfortable continuing to work for a place that reacted like that, and I would probably be going into the discussion prepared to tender a 2 week notice. I would go in asking for reassurance that what I was hearing from others (without naming ANY names) wasn't what was actually happening and wanting reasurrance that there was actually something being done, that the others misunderstood. And if there WAS support being shown for the coverup you describe, then I would turn in a two week notice.

JMHO.

If I had the money and resources, I would have walked out tonight. The moment that becomes a reality for me (and I'm working on it) I will be out of there. No one will report it. Some are too scared of the consequence. Others think they are doing the right thing (seriously) by not reporting it. I already know what management will say. They will spin it and then turn it into a public relations issue for the company. I will definitely say something...I just know how they will respond.

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Old 07-14-2010, 02:27 AM
 
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Plus, I'm sure it's illegal for you to lose your job for reporting child abuse.
Yeah, that. Many places have mandatory reporting, but I've never heard of a no-reporting rule. That's horrifying.

The fact that no one said anything isn't surprising though. Studies have shown that the more people that are present, the lower the chances of a victim getting help. You'll get help if the only witness believes him or herself to be the only witness and your only chance of getting help, but if the witness believes there are other people to help or other people that could help, that person doesn't call. The chances of a witness calling for help drops as the number of witnesses rises.

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Old 07-14-2010, 03:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I reported it. Our state has a 24 hours helpline. And I find it extremely sad that I was on hold for 15 minutes at 2am to report abuse. I hope that's because there are less operators at 2am and not because that many people were making reports. She said she could definitely take my report. She was unsure if there was any law against an employer forcing you to stay quiet, but she said they would probably have a lot of trouble on their hands for taking action against me. We'll see. I go back to work on Friday and I will pull the witnesses aside and give them the information for the child abuse service in our area. I'm also going to talk to management and I will be perfectly honest with them about my reporting.

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Old 07-14-2010, 06:20 AM
 
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OP, your integrity is inspiring. I tend to think your colleagues were sickened - not just by "it" - but sickened by their own behavior. I hope they have some shame, because by doing nothing, they are actually condoning this mans behavior.

I think its really good you give the witnesses the info about the child abuse service in your area. Giving them a piece a paper sort of puts some responsibility "in their hands" and it might give one or more of them, who are feeling quite ashamed, a way to feel better about themselves. I hope some of them call.

The whole idea that your company's management basically has a gag order on you is really gross - and if not illegal, impossible to enforce. Could you imagine it if they fired you and you went to the local press and said you were fired for reporting abuse? In what way, shape or form could that possibly look good for the company?
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:28 PM
 
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Just FYI, not sure what details you provided and if you said you saw or someone told you they saw, but in some states, they will accept hearsay reports, especially if there were multiple witnesses and it happened in a public setting. And it also depends on the person taking the call. It never hurts to call, and the folks on the other end of the phone are usually more than willing to explain why they can or can not take a call. Glad they took this one.

In my state, NY, I am a mandated reporter, but I am also a "social services professional" and I am mandated by state law to report hearsay. There was a horrible case a few years ago that sparked this change.

Just something for folks to know about.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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These situations always make me think of the 10,000 Maniacs song "What's the Matter Here"

That young boy without a name, anywhere I'd know his face.
In this city the kid's my favorite.
I've seen him, seen him. I see him every day.
Seen him run outside looking for a place to hide from his father,
the kid half naked and said to myself "O, what's the matter here?"
I'm tired of the excuses everbody uses, he's their kid I stay out of it,
but who gave you the right to do this?

We live on Morgan Street;
just ten feet between and his mother, I never see her,
but her screams and cussing, I hear them every day.
Threats like: "If you don't mind I will beat on your behind,"
"Slap you, slap you silly."
made me say, "O, what's the matter here?"
I'm tired of the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to you own flesh and blood.

I have heard the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to you own flesh and blood.

"If you don't sit in your chair straight
I'll take this belt from around my waist and don't you think that I won't use it!"

Answer me and take your time,
what could be the awful crime he could do at so young an age?
If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.
All these cold and rude things that you do I suppose you do because he belongs to you
and instead of love and the feel of warmth you've given him these cuts and sores that don't heal with time or with age.

And I want to say "What's the Matter here?"
But I don't dare say "What's the Matter here?"
But I don't dare say.

Hippie sympathizer and mom to L, 4.8.10.
Pet-mom to Squirt with FLUTD & Maya the deaf wonder dog .
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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wow, that is horrific! so glad you called.

~helen~ mama to 5 yo twins jonas and micah and my 2 yo baby boy eli
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:54 PM
 
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Heartbreaking as this situation is, I am so relieved that you reported it! All I could think, while reading this was "if he would do that in front of people what kind of h*ll must that child endure when they are home, alone?" Thank you very much for your courage to do what was clearly right, and please keep us informed.

"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bank balance smaller, home happier, clothes dirty, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for." ~A.U.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:02 PM
 
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I've reported hearsay, and they gave me a hard time for waiting to call. I was at work and heard about a little girl telling another dc teacher about her dad hitting her. There was a lot of pressure not to call. I had a doctor's appointment right after work, and then I called. I explained all of this, and she eased up on me, but said I really should have called right from work. I was just a college kid. The child was taken from the home, and I am so glad I called.

Your employer should be reported whether they investigate hearsay or not.

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Old 07-14-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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I am not surprised no one did or said anything. I can't tell you how many mandated reporters knew that we were being abused and not *one* did anything. Certainly no one else ever did.

I am glad you called.

I don't think there has to be a specific law against your employer issuing a gag order. I mean if someone were selling drugs on their property, they couldn't tell you not to report that to the police or that they'd fire you if you called the cops about it. Child abuse is illegal.

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Old 07-14-2010, 10:20 PM
 
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In many states (including mine, but I don't know about PA), ANY adult who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being physically or otherwise abused is a mandated reporter. That would mean that hearsay is an acceptable reason to report - because if that many people told you about it, you certainly have a reasonable suspicion. And, if that is PA law (again, I don't know if it is) your employer would be breaking the law by prohibiting reporting. So if you can find the text of the PA law, you might want to have it on hand when you talk with your employer.

And good on you for calling!

Here as mama to W (2/04), R (5/06), D (7/09), and J (12/9/12!), co-parenting with my DH

I WOH part-time, am a doula & childbirth educator, home/unschool, and hope we are nearing the center of chaos


 
  

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Old 07-15-2010, 12:42 AM
 
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I am glad you called.

Here it is mandatory that abuse be reported. Although that does not mean people don't ever turn a blind eye

Decluttering 500/2010
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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I'm not sure what to do. There was a client at my job today who was seen beating his child, screaming at him and threatening to break his arms off. The child had knocked a small shelf off the wall - no big deal to us - and his father proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. The child huddled up and covered himself to protect himself from the blows. The father was also heard threatening the child, verbally abusing him and telling him that if he touched anything else he would break his arms. And then he beat him again. I was not there when this happened. They told me about it when I arrived at work a few hours later. Quite a few of my co-workers witnessed this event. Everyone was shaken and sickened by it. They're all very upset. I asked what they did about it. Answer: nothing. No call to the police. Nothing. Management will not allow anyone to say anything about it. We could get in trouble if we try to report it. So now everyone who witnessed it won't report it. I'm so upset. I wanted to vomit when I heard about it. If I had been there...I can assure you I would have been fired today. I feel like I can't refrain from trying to do something now that I know about it. Any advice would be appreciated.
Oh my word. I would have gotten fired. I have stepped in each I have witnessed abuse to a child. I still have a woman who is 'after' me because I stepped in and pulled her off her daughter.

In your situation, I would report it. I would get as many details as I could and report it asap.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:53 AM
 
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I'm not sure what to do. There was a client at my job today who was seen beating his child, screaming at him and threatening to break his arms off. The child had knocked a small shelf off the wall - no big deal to us - and his father proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. The child huddled up and covered himself to protect himself from the blows. The father was also heard threatening the child, verbally abusing him and telling him that if he touched anything else he would break his arms. And then he beat him again. I was not there when this happened. They told me about it when I arrived at work a few hours later. Quite a few of my co-workers witnessed this event. Everyone was shaken and sickened by it. They're all very upset. I asked what they did about it. Answer: nothing. No call to the police. Nothing. Management will not allow anyone to say anything about it. We could get in trouble if we try to report it. So now everyone who witnessed it won't report it. I'm so upset. I wanted to vomit when I heard about it. If I had been there...I can assure you I would have been fired today. I feel like I can't refrain from trying to do something now that I know about it. Any advice would be appreciated.
Oh my word. I would have gotten fired. I have stepped in each time I have witnessed abuse to a child. I still have a woman who is 'after' me because I stepped in and pulled her off her daughter.

In your situation, I would report it. I would get as many details as I could and report it asap.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I just read the replies.

Glad you followed your heart on this Mrs. Mike. That child needs intervention a.s.a.p. I hope CPS does not mess things up. Keep us posted if you can.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I will always report any abuse I see. If the person is bold enough to abuse in public, just imagine what goes on behind closed doors.
I don't want that on my heart.
Prayers for all the sweet babies being abused, it breaks my heart.

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Old 07-15-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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Thank you for calling, OP.

Me , 36 year old RN and future AP mom in training . I am wife to one wonderful husband and "mom" to one great rescue pup :.
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Old 07-17-2010, 01:27 PM
 
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Where I live, sadly, what that father had done would not be considered abuse. Spanking, even hitting with another object, is not illegal--unless it causes pretty significant injuries (sprains, broken bones, lacerations, etc.). Verbal abuse is often viewed as normal. Heck, corporal punishment is still legal in most of the State's schools.

It's actually quite frightening (to me) when you look at State laws on spanking http://kidjacked.com/legal/spanking_law.asp So many say that parents can use "reasonable, non-lethal force" when disciplining children.

For example, in Mississippi: "Physical discipline (not to include any form of sexual abuse) performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian shall only be deemed to be abuse under this paragraph when a licensed physician has determined that physical injury has occurred."

Knowing that, I would probably have tried to approach the client/father on the side... or even through an anonymous letter... saying that I had witnessed what had happened, and pointing him to some local resources and books that might help him become a better parent. Anger management, GD courses, etc. I think that at least where I live, that is much more likely to cause change than reporting it to CPS/police. I'm not sure if the threat of breaking the child's arm would be disregarded as an angry tirade, or taken seriously.

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Old 07-20-2010, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just an update. I spoke with a co-worker who was directly involved in the incident. She heard and SAW everything. I handed her a sheet of paper with the county phone numbers and spoke to her privately. She said she is calling...that she had felt helpless and was glad to have those numbers. I also gave those numbers to another co-worker who was there at the time and I believe she called as well.

I have nothing nice to say to management.

PA has mandatory reporting laws for certain professions and businesses. We do not fall under that category. Regular citizens do not fall under the mandatory reporting category. However, since there isn't a true law, I suspect a court can rule either way should someone get sued for not reporting.

I just hope and pray this little boy gets the help he needs and that he stays safe and feels love from somewhere.

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