Thursday, January 5, 2012
The Nanny's Dilemma: When to Report or Not to Report Child Abuse?
In most states, the nanny is legally a Mandatory Reporter. That is, the nanny must report abuse or suspected abuse with no fear of legal liability. However, states provide little or no training for nannies regarding what is abuse or when to report abuse.
The dilemma for the nanny can be daunting. Egregious cases of abuse are obvious. More vexing
is the affectionate hug, a temper tantrum directed at a child, or a spanking.
The instinct is to err on the side of caution. If you suspect something, report it. Easily said, but in some states, a report of suspicion of abuse, even if proven false, will forever appear on a person's record.
You may be a heroine for alerting authorities to abusive behavior but you might be self-righteous, intrusive, and unemployed if you make a false accusation.
Some politico decry, rightly or wrongly, what they term as a "nanny nation." In either case, no one can deny that government as parent is not desirable.
Would you want to be the one who starts the process that causes the separation of parent from child? Or deprive a teacher of her career? Or alienate a neighbor? Or involve yourself in legal wrangling?
All this with the sure knowledge that kids are suggestive and that they often lie for their own benefit.
So, when to report and when not to report? As a moral guardian and as a Mandatory Reporter, and if you reasonably certain of abuse, you MUST report the behavior. Period.
As a nanny, you should be aware of any of the changes in behavior we have mentioned this week and in previous blogs, and use these behaviors as red flags of possible mistreatment.
This is not an easy or simple topic, but it is a part of being the best nanny.