Question about child abuse reporting

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    I'm an RN but a still-unemployed new grad. I understand that nurses are mandatory reporters of child abuse, but I'm hoping someone can clarify something for me. I know that we must report all child abuse and suspected child abuse on the job, but what about in our personal lives?

    Last night my best friend of 13 years called me in a panic. Her brother's 18 year old daughter (I'll call her "N") is visiting for the week, and "N" confided in my friend that her dad/my friend's brother (I'll call him "B") has been physically and emotionally abusive for years. "N" told my friend that when she was 14 she was raped by an acquaintance and her dad accused her of being a s*ut and tried to choke her, with her mother standing by doing nothing. Now "N" is 18 and obviously not a child anymore though she still lives at home, but "B" and his wife still have two young children (ages 5 and 7). "N" told my friend that her dad left a bruise on the 7 year old and once slapped the kid on the leg hard enough to leave a welt.

    My friend lives in another state, but her brother lives in my state. I met him and his wife once, and my friend's niece once or twice, many years ago. I've never met the younger children, though my friend has been telling me for years that they seem "off" and developmentally delayed. Now I am wondering if this is because of the parents' actions.

    "N" wonít report her father because she fears repercussions, and my friend says she won't report her brother because it will make things too messy within her family (she has always had a chaotic home life Ė never involving abuse though). My friend was close with her brother although she disapproved of what she saw of his parenting. She doesnít think she can confront him and told me she never wants to see him again.

    My question is this: Do I get involved? I would like my friend to report her brother because she heard the accusations first hand from her niece, but I donít think she will. As an RN do I need to report it? Should I report it? Will my words even carry any weight, since I heard it from my friend, who heard it form her niece that I donít know? Also I suppose itís possible that ďNĒ has fabricated the story although I find that highly unlikely, judging purely by what my friend has told me about these people over the 13 years weíve known each other. I feel like itís not my place to get involved, but at the same time it bothers me to think the 5 and 7 year olds still live in that house.
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  4. 3 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    Quote from neelieyelik

    My question is this: Do I get involved? I would like my friend to report her brother because she heard the accusations first hand from her niece, but I don’t think she will. As an RN do I need to report it? Should I report it? Will my words even carry any weight, since I heard it from my friend, who heard it form her niece that I don’t know? Also I suppose it’s possible that “N” has fabricated the story although I find that highly unlikely, judging purely by what my friend has told me about these people over the 13 years we’ve known each other. I feel like it’s not my place to get involved, but at the same time it bothers me to think the 5 and 7 year olds still live in that house.
    What is your motivation? Purely altruistic? For the 18y/o, if she is still in the home, Adult Protective Services are the ones to call, tho' regarding a healthy, non-developmentally delayed 18y/o there won't be much done or said unless the abuse is, "grievous". certainly, you could make an anonymous call t Child Protective Services. I'm not a fan of CPS, for a variety of reasons, mainly that the nationwide benefit to damage ratio is questionable at best. Relativity is harsh- live with a rough family, or roll the dice, and hope they don't get placed with the local pedophile support group.

    1) You don't have to report anything you have not witnessed/seen in service.
    2) IMHO/ME the potential for harm outweighs benefit in third-person accounts.
    3) Had you personally seen/witnessed violent behavior, that would be one thing, but, again, this is a remote accounting by person(s) with varying biases and motivations.
    RN-Cardiac likes this.
  6. 0
    My motivation is wanting to do the right thing by everyone.

    Thanks for the advice. I think I will probably keep my mouth shut. I am also concerned about the benefit to damage ratio concerning CPS, especially when I haven't seen something first-hand.

    For future reference, how does the manatory reporter law apply to personal situations that are seen or heard more directly? For example if this girl had confided in me directly, would I then be required to speak up?

    I would of course always report something I witnessed first hand, both professionally and personally.
  7. 1
    Check with your state BON for the legal definition and standard.
    RN-Cardiac likes this.


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