A Practical Tip On Easing the Pain for Parents When Reporting Child Abuse

Mar 06, 2017

“A thing is not impossible, merely because it is inconceivable. The human reason has very definite limits.”

Lewis Carroll

A Practical Tip On Easing the Pain for Parents When Reporting Child Abuse

TISA Description of the Problem: We are all faced with the awkward and stressful situation of making a report to Children and Youth Services when we have uncovered an act of child abuse. Such reporting is important. It can also lead to subsequent problems with engagement. The following tip from Bruce Berger M.D. (who also submitted a great tip back in December of 2003) helps to ease the situation by providing the parent with a sense of choice in a situation where one feels no sense of control.

Tip: I find the following idea to be reassuring to parents when the issue of reporting abuse comes up. I simply ask them if they would like me to report the incident or if they would like to report it themselves. If they choose to self-report, I let them know that I will be there as well to both provide support and to offer my own opinions on the situation to the Children and Youth Services worker. Patients often find this to be very reassuring.

TISA Follow-up: I really like this tip. It empowers the parent at a critical point of possible disengagement and emphasizes that the act of reporting is a way of getting help with a behavior that the parent does not want to be doing. It is not being done as a punishment. I am also reminded of an excellent tip that I have found useful over the years in those situations where I was a bit uncertain whether or not reporting was indicated. I simply call the clinician at Children and Youth Services and ask the clinician whether or not the incident is worthy of report. It works great. They don’t want unnecessary reporting that prevents them from spending the time they need on serious cases, and they will tell you freely whether the reporting is appropriate or not.

Tip provided by:

Bruce Berger, M.D.