? about Mandatory Reporting of abuse

  1. Hello all, I'm a student nurse right now, and I understand that I am already considered a mandatory reporter. I'm in a situation where I'm not sure if I'm required to report. Sorry if it's wordy, I'll make it as brief as I can.

    I have a friend (woman) who called me 2 days ago to tell me her husband had verbally and physically abused her and her 5 yo son. She left immediately, and she & her children have not had any contact with husband since then. I advised her to contact CPS but she said she did not want CPS involved. I urged more, but we were primarily concerned with getting her out and safe that day, so nothing happened at that time. Yesterday, she met with a divorce attorney, and attorney told her she had to contact CPS, and also helped her file paperwork for Protective Order for her & children. I urged her to do so as soon as possible, and explained that I was a mandatory reporter, but that I felt it would be best for everyone if she were the one to call CPS, and she said she would. Today I called her to make sure she had called. She said she has not, that instead she had called her attorney, and claimed she was told by attorney that since she had Protective Order, she did not have to call CPS, and restated that she didn't want CPS involved.

    The thing is, her husband has been physically abusing her for 3 years, and I just found 2 months ago about one incident, and when I did, I had her call to file police report at my house, and they contacted CPS (which got her very upset, but they were totally okay since she had left w/children and was doing what she needed to protect them). Anyway, obviously she got back together with him, and just left again after the 2nd incident that I have known about. I just found out last night from her aunt that her husband has been abusing her for 3 years and that it is far worse than I knew about. So, considering her track record for lying to cover up, I'm concerned that she is lying about her attorney telling her she didn't have to call CPS. The story just doesn't sit right with me.

    I'm very concerned. I think CPS should be contacted. Though I didn't witness the abuse (it was 3 am in their home) she did tell me about it. Am I required to report in this case? Should I err on the side of caution and call them, or is this enough of a gray area that, since the children are safe at this time, I should instead continue to urge her to contact CPS herself? I think it would be best for her case to prevent unsupervised visitations if she were to call rather than me, but ultimately, I want them involved in this.

    What to do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm just sick thinking of all this, and wnat to do what is best for friend & her children, but also do not want her to break contact with me as I am the only friend she has who is even trying to get her to call CPS. The rest are telling her to not get them involved.

    BTW I live in Texas if that impacts the legal side of this.
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    Joined: May '05; Posts: 89; Likes: 76

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  3. by   TazziRN
    First, you are not a mandated reporter when off duty unless you present yourself as one. Same as the Good Samaritan law: you are not obligated to help at the scene of an accident unless you present yourself as a health professional, and then you are held to the standards of your peers, not the general public.

    Second, yes, it sounds like you should report this. The mom won't, for whatever reason. CPS is not supposed to reveal who generated the report, but you can do it anonymously.
  4. by   RunnerRN
    Sounds like a sticky situation. Maybe some of the more legally minded posters can get in on this, but here is I how interpret things...
    Our duty to report only extends to people we have a working responsibility to. If this woman or her kids came to your workplace, and you were the assigned RN, then you would be a mandated reporter. Although some could make an argument that if she came to you for medical advice, then you would have a duty to her and would have to report (but I think considering that you're still a student, even then it wouldn't apply). Assuming now that the kids are safe, I would give myself as a friend more than a "mandated reporter." Although, if one of the kids/she has an injury and went to the ER, they would be mandated to report if the suspicions were there.
    I would be there as a friend to her, I'm sure this is an awful situation. Maybe try to explore a little more WHY she is so against having CPS aware. Is she afraid she will lose her kids too? The abuse against the kids should be legally documented. Good luck!
  5. by   Antikigirl
    Oh man that is sticky! Since the mother did get her kids to safety and herself, and has contacted an attourney and gotten the restraint order...I think she has done what is needed by her wishes, unless she wants to press charges against the husband for abuse...which is sounds like she does not.

    WOW...Ummmmmm..this is tough. Bottom line it is her choice unless she has put the children in a unsafe situation. Then help is needed there big time.

    I know many people that wouldn't call CPS to save their lives because they tend to overdo and turn everyones life into a guilty until proven innocent deal around my parts. Kids are taken and put into foster homes unless you do countless tasks and paperwork to get your own family the AUTHORITY to keep your children (my friend just had this happen), and can still be denied. Parents get mean and accuse eachother of things and wind up not being able to see their children (either one!). And with the court systems of today...this lasts for months/years!

    HOWEVER, if he breaks the restraining order...or hurts her or the children...then the police MUST be called PERIOD!!!!!!!! Right then and there! That is when I would step in if I was there witnessing it, urging if I was not there!

    I would sit down if you feel so strongly about calling CPS and talk with her about her reasons NOT to call....maybe you can find out her fears and work with that to ensure a safe situation for all.

    I believe in this case since you did not physically see the harm (unlike when on duty!) that you don't have to report it. I would say to be a good friend instead and talk with her about her choices and why and get her side of the plan so you can work as a team of friends supporting her and her children. Right now it seems she could use the support vs the confusion of all these agencies telling her what to do or simply doing it without her permission. It could very well be the only time in this marriage where she has control, and that is a good thing as long as everyone is safe...that will help her recover from all this and move on a stronger person!

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