I had meant to get back into Mama Kat’s writing prompts for Thursday this week, but something happened that kind of jostled me. I am not one to talk about politics/controversial topics on here because in general I tend to avoid confrontation. Also, my job is the kind that sort of prevents me from having that “conflict of interest” with being too outspoken about certain things. However I am so upset about something that happened this week, I’m going to bring it up (as best as I can due to confidentiality) because I think this is an important issue in our society that I just can’t continue to be quiet about.
On Wednesday, I had to call our Child Abuse Hotline. It is always devastating when you realize that you need to do this, but I am a mandatory reporter, I took an oath to keep my students safe, and I felt it was the right thing to do. All I can say, is that there was a situation that happened at school that occurred in front of many witnesses. I was not a witness, but the student is in my class. This student was extremely upset and after further conversation I was able to determine that this student is being maltreated in many ways that can only be described as horrific. Especially, for those of us that have never been treated in such a manner by any person, let alone a parent.
This student was very reluctant to tell me details. Child protective services has been to this house in the past, and the children there were severely punished for this. You can imagine that I was only receiving bits and pieces of information.
Let me back track by saying that I am technically an employee of our Department of Children and Families here in Florida. They don’t pay me, the county does. However, in order to get my students certified to teach preschool, I am trained by DCF and given materials by DCF to do this. I am in direct contact with them regularly. I just taught the Child Abuse and Neglect module 1 month ago to my students. 1 month ago….One thing that DCF reiterates to us to repeat over and over and over again is that as a teacher/mandatory reporter you are not to over question and investigate the suspected abuse. Your job is only to call and report and allow for the CPS investigators to do their job and determine whether abuse is happening or not.
So back to my story, I called the hotline and I was told:
“Since you don’t see any marks on the child and nothing happened but a threat in this particular situation, we may not be able to investigate. Let me check with my supervisor.”
This student was threatened with physical (we’re not talking a spanking here, either) punishment. This student was afraid to go home. This student’s parent has followed through with physical threats in the past.
The rep came back on the line and says to me, “Unfortunately we cannot investigate. A threat isn’t reason enough to come out to their home. Also, you didn’t give me enough information on the other children’s names, or what kind of physical harm/injuries they have sustained in the past.”
ARE YOU SERIOUS!?
First of all, since when does visible injury constitute as the criteria for abuse? Last I checked there are children who are severely sexually abused, emotionally neglected or verbally abused who have no physical evidence of it. What does this have to do with anything?
Secondly, why am I supposed to be the one gathering the specific information in this situation? I am not the investigator!
Third, DCF has been to this home before. Check your records people. Obviously, something is going on here!
I was so upset and to top it off, when an officer was questioning the student to determine whether they should send them home or not, he tells me later, “Well, the student admitted to me that usually they are only treated like that when they do something bad. As punishment.”
HELLO?! Am in the twilight zone? This crazy parent’s definition of bad/punishment is ABUSE. Especially, when you consider that often a BAT has been involved!!
At this point I am fuming.
What the Hell is wrong with our society that:
1) People feel they can treat children this way
2) No one takes responsibility for it
3) The people who are supposed to help keep these children safe (i.e. teachers) are often up against the wall with no resources or people to help them do this.
This society is built on the premise that children are meant to play and learn. The state of Florida itself has in its statutes that it is our duty to “protect children and provide them with their basic needs and an education.”
Well, they surely don’t make this easy for us as a state/community now do they?
I can’t help but think that this is all about money, or the lack thereof. Not enough money to investigate all the problems, so we’re going to only check on the ones we think are “for real.” In the meantime, we are creating a society of monsters and criminals. Because, when you are maltreated as a child, then you are thrown into a society where no one gives a shit about you and no one wants to help you, how are you supposed to trust ANYONE? It’s like a community of stray cats who run away and flinch if you get too close and then attack when they feel threatened.
This is so disgusting to me. Don’t even get me started on what’s going on with teachers/ government community workers. The very people who are there and meant to take care of our children and educate them are also maltreated by our state. Let’s pay teacher’s, fireman, police officers, child protective services and social workers next to nothing, take away their retirement and then hope that we grow our children to be respectable members of our community after they’ve seen how the world treats those who try and do good.
Great job, Florida! Why don’t you give yourselves a pat on the back for creating a society of people who lack empathy and may very well go to crime to get what they need. I have a feeling this is why we’re always in the newspapers for crazy shit. We made it this way.