Child abuse is terrible. As a public school teacher, I am a Mandated Reporter.
Your failure to report instances of child abuse known or reasonably suspected to you is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1000) or both. Reference: California Penal Code Section 11166.5.
As a professional responsibility, I am trained to recognize child abuse (known or reasonably suspected). For example, each time I see a child with a broken arm, and I see lots of these, I have a casual conversation about the circumstances.
In light of these legal requirements, I am interested in news stories on this subject. I am quite concerned about the efforts to extend the definition of child abuse.
Here are two examples of this concerning trend.
Ear Piercing – Is ear piercing child abuse? Should I call Child Protective Services when a child shows up with pierced ears? In this case, the story is about a petition, not a law, so currently only BuzzFeed is concerned, but it does contribute to a trend.
Free-range children (a clever label borrowed by free-range poultry) is a more worrying story. Evidently some police in Maryland
twice picked up the siblings as they made their way home in Silver Spring, and CPS neglect investigations ensued.
How scary this must have been for the children to be picked up by the police and interviewed by CPS.
Again as a teacher, am I expected to call CPS when I observe children walking home from school?
Fortunately, in Maryland at least, I am in the clear.
Child Protective Services should not be involved in such cases unless children have been harmed or face a substantial risk of harm.
Walking home is not a substantial risk of harm.
There seems to be a trend of people wanting to dictate the behavior of others. This can be seen in China’s control of dissidents, middle east enforcement of Sharia Laws, United States control of reproductive rights, etc.
We may not be able to do much about dissidents in China or Sharia Law, but we can do something about what our local communities define as Child Abuse, and under what circumstances the Police and CPS are allowed to terrorize the children they are meant to protect.