Guest Author - Kelli Deister
In recent news, there was a minister that was arrested because he allegedly knew of the abuse that a child in his congregation was enduring, yet he apparently failed to report it to the authorities. If a child is taken to a therapist and they suspect child abuse, they are required to report it. If a school teacher notices unusual bruising on one of her students and suspects abuse, the teacher is required to tell the authorities. If a pediatrician is doing an annual exam on one of his patients and the doctor suspects abuse, that doctor is required to report it. If a minister or priest knows of abuse occurring in one of his parishionerís homes, that minister is required to report it to the authorities.
Personally, I find it refreshing that some which are in the position to report suspected child abuse and do not do so, will eventually find themselves answering to the authorities. Our society must begin to take this issue seriously. Granted, some may wonder exactly when is the appropriate time to alert the authorities. There are signs of child abuse that a person can be educated on. It is imperative to educate those in the professional realm when it comes to signs of abuse on a child. Without the education, the adult will not know exactly at what point they are to report it. Does one take a wait-and-see approach? If so, just how long do they wait to see if it will happen again. This topic has been repeatedly brought up in recent news.
There are obvious warning signs, depending on whether or not the professional is educated on the topic. While physical abuse is more likely to be visible, emotional and verbal abuse show no visible bruises or injuries. This does not mean that there hasnít been any abuse.
There are basic signs of abuse that one can be on the lookout for. If a child is normally happy, does well in school, and interacts with her peers well, and then suddenly begins to withdraw from her friends, sits silently in the class, and her grades begin to drop drastically, that is evidence that could create suspicions of possible abuse. It is my understanding that the changes in the childís behavior are possible signs of abuse. Perhaps a child at school that continually bullies the other children or shows inappropriate behaviors for their age is exhibiting abusive behaviors learned at home.
I am very much in favor of the mandatory reporting laws in our country. I do not take them lightly. If each person that works with children were to educate themselves on issues of abuse, then I believe the number of children being abused would begin to decline. We must begin to take an active and aggressive approach to domestic violence and the children caught up in its horrors at home.