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  • Mar27Mon

    Standing in the Way of Reporting

    March 27, 2017 Melodie Bissell
    Filed Under:
    Policies and Procedures

    This week I received a phone call about an incident of abuse, which was reported as required by the law, but leadership within the organization, reprimanded and harassed staff for reporting the abuse. 

    Unfortunately, we’ve heard too many stories abuse cover-ups and demanding victims forgive and forget instantly, for the sake of the offenders whose lives might be ruined.  We have too many stories of organizational leaders trying interfere with reporting.  

    There is something incredibly wrong when organizations protect offenders while marginalize victims and chastise those that defended them.

    We need leadership to give a voice to the voiceless. We need leaders who will encourage volunteers and staff to report abuse and support them when they do.

    At Plan to Protect®, we are very concerned about this issue! We’ve decided to provide you with an unprecedented preview of part of our policy on the Reporting and Response section of our manual. Please consider adopting this policy statement for your organization!  We only ask that you reference the source if you use it. 

    Every organization should put implement this policy statement to ensure a HIGH standard of protection:

    For the protection of our Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults, all allegations or suspicions of abuse are taken seriously.

    An individual hearing an allegation of abuse or a disclosure of abuse, or having reasonable suspicion of child abuse the staff member or volunteer will immediately report the matter to child protection authorities or the police. Reporting must be done by telephone or in person promptly at the point of observing signs of abuse or receiving a report of abuse.  The reporting must be immediate, a direct report (meaning the individual that first heard the disclosure or allegation, or who has reasonable suspicion of abuse), and an on-going report as new information is gleaned.  The report may be done in conjunction with someone in leadership

    A person who knowingly fails to report in these circumstances is in violation of the law, may be found to have committed an offense and may be subject to disciplinary action within the Organization.

    There must not be any undue interference when a report of child abuse has been voiced or filed with child protection authorities. The Director or his designate must notify the Organization’s insurance provider and seek legal counsel. 

    No internal investigations will be conducted.  Investigations are to be left to child protection agencies or the police. 

    At no time should Board members, Directors or leadership either engage in denial, minimization or blame or admit responsibility, which could prejudice the case or cause increased liability to the Organization.

    The Director or his/her designate should ask the child protection authorities how they can assist in helping and supporting the investigation and the hurting Child or Youth and their family.   The Director or his/her designate should maintain frequent communication and supportive relationships with those suspected or guilty of child abuse as long as these persons exhibit a willingness to listen, change and look for help. The Board may determine if professional counseling will be offered.   

    [Reference: Plan to Protect® Manual: A Protection Plan for Children and Youth, A Protection Plan for those that work with them. WordAlive Press, 2016]

    NO ONE should interfere with, intimidate or harass volunteers and staff that are following through on their legal and moral duty to report child abuse.  NO ONE should be subjected to verbal, physical or sexual abuse.  Instead, those who are vulnerable deserve an advocate, and volunteers and staff which fulfill their duty to report, should be supported.


    On Monday, April 3, 2017, Richard Arbeau said:

    Excellent article! I also had a similar situation while co-pastoring with my father. We met with the victim and my dad had prayer with her and her mother. The victim and abuser attended our church. My dad also met with the individual that abused the young girl and this man's spouse at the church. He informed me later, "I had a good talk with the man and his spouse. He realized what he did was wrong, repented and we a good prayer". I advised him that I've already reported the incident to the local police and the department of social services. My dad was very angry. To my knowledge the local police nor social service follow up on my report?

    It may have been one or two years later this man and his wife were staying with a family in the USA. During the night the man went into the family's daughter's bedroom and sexually assaulted her. This family was also a member of my father's church(I was no longer co-pastor, returned to insurance business)they reported the incident to the State Police. The police investigated and contacted my father about the prior incident. He advised the police that he thought his son(I) reported the assault, the State Trooper said, "for your sake I hope so, if not we are charging you". They checked it and the local police had my report on file. My dad called to thank me for reporting the first incident and for saving him from be charged! The young man was charged and served time in jail for the second assault.



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