it wasn’t about me but it hurt so much.

they never tell you how hard it is to call cps.

as a teacher, you are a mandated reporter. anytime you suspect abuse you are required by law to call cps. you are not the detective, you are told, they are. just call.

before i was a teacher, i went to numerous trainings about calling cps. one involved a graphic video, another role-playing, and over and over again, the mantra “if you suspect abuse, you have to call. don’t worry. just do it.” they won’t break up families, it won’t be an immigration issue, their job is to keep children and families safe, and together whenever possible.

someone i am close to had to call cps before i did for someone in their class. i told them over and over again they just had to do it, it was our job.

and it turned out it was even hard than we’d expected, in entirely different ways than we had thought.

and i’ve had to call three times now, and each time the experience is the same. you feel nauseous, scared and vulnerable, the connection is usually bad, and you are trying to speak these horrible truths clearly and loudly and you get a little numb because the connection is so bad you’ve had to say them over and over and over again. and then on the other end, “are you sure?” “did you ask this?” “have you talked to…?” “this is very serious.” by the time you get off the phone, you feel about 2 feet tall, clumsy, stupid. you doubt they are going to follow up, even though this is the second time you’ve seen bruises, and you feel angry and confused at those people who told you to call. because now it feels like if you weren’t there at the window witnessing these precious children getting beaten, you have no case, why are you even calling?

i’ve been wanting to write about that for awhile, and it’s not quaker-specific, but it is about trying to have integrity in a confusing world. and i haven’t written here much and i miss it.

i’m not sure if i prayed about it all, or even how to pray about it now.

it wasn’t about me but it hurt so much.

hmm… that sentence just about sums up last school year.

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Published in: on 29 June, 2011 at 9:46 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is really hard to make these calls.

    The first time I reported suspected abuse–sexual, as it happens, there was an investigation. And the perpetrator committed suicide that same day.

    Which did quite the number on the kids involved, thank you very much.

    However, while that was the first time I’d made such a call–and it was about as awful as it sounds–it was not the first time I’d spoken with a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’d had a lot of adult clients, as a volunteer for a local rape crisis center, who’d told me they’d been abused as kids, and that numerous adults had, in fact, known about it.

    And not reported it.

    Which did another kind of a number on the kids, back when they had been kids.

    And I never, ever want to be in the position of looking someone in the eye, and knowing I could have made the report, but didn’t.

    That helped me deal with my bad reporting story. Of course, I’ve had the other kind, too–it’s amazing how much higher the threshold is for an investigation in a poor urban setting than in a rural one, or if a parent is a suspected perpetrator, and a divorce is in process, or…

    I can’t control the outcomes. But I know I can’t walk away from that table, either–and not just because of the law.

  2. I know the feeling. I have had to call CPS myself and . . . it is never good.


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