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How can I tell if my 3 y.o. grandson was molested?
February 6, 2011 9:04 AM   Subscribe

My three year old grandson made a statement that suggested he was molested at his daycare. Earlier, he told his parents a different version of the story that doesn't suggest molestation. How can we get to the truth?

My three year old grandson was visiting for a few days. Out of the clear blue, he said that a male worker at his daycare had molested him ("licked his pee pee" while changing diaper). When asked, he repeated the same story. We mentioned it to his parents right away. Apparently they already heard a different version of the story ("wiped" instead of "licked") and decided not to pursue the matter.

I think there is something going on that shouldn't be ignored.

How can I get to the truth? Should I contact police? Push the parents to do so? Just butt out? Is there another approach that should be considered?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
DO NOT ask him more questions. That will change his story. Call the police, who should take him to a child assessment center. They are trained to interview kids about these sorts of things in a compassionate manner.
posted by quiet coyote at 9:10 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think you should contact the police. Let the parents figure out what they want to do.

Also, there really may be no truth to get at. Kids say fanciful things, they embellish and outright invent, especially if it might get an adult reaction. Also, children are very prone to suggestion, so by asking them questions, you can wind up leading them to say all sorts of fun made-up things.

I'm not saying all claims of abuse by children should be ignored, but these kinds of cases are hotly debated and very carefully investigated, particularly because of the reasons I just mentioned. If he doesn't seem unhappy or exhibit any of the common signs of child-abuse, I would really just butt out.
posted by hermitosis at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wiped and licked are very different things. Wiped his penis while changing a diaper (is he still in diapers or being helped using the toilet?) would not be out-of-the-ordinary.

As others have said, this is up to the parents.

If it were my son, I'd ask to speak to the director or head teacher and bring it up as "we're not trying to be accusatory, but if there was an issue, we want to make sure that everything's okay... 'Brayden' told us and his grandparents that 'Frank' touched his penis and implied that it may be beyond what is appropriate."

It is the head teacher / director's job/responsibility (IMHO) to investigate. I'd assume that the person in charge has training in dealing with this.
posted by k8t at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with hermitosis, given the changing nature of his testimony and the fact that the parents are not alarmed.

Wikipedia has a run-down on some of the difficulties that come in investigating such events with very young children.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the parents are aware of what is going on, then let them handle it. It is not really your place.
posted by TheBones at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hermitosis and PhoBWanKenobi, usually I totally agree with you (and I do agree that it should be up to the parents), but I'm going to have to disagree with you here. The reason that these sorts of cases are "hotly debated" stems from irresponsible interviewing practices from the 80s and 90s. As a result of the backlash, practices have been refined greatly. Interviewers at child assessment centers go through extensive training so to not glean information that's not there, and many prosecutors will not press charges without a great deal of evidence. For reasons including concerns hermitosis expressed, if it was my child, I would hesitate to have him interviewed by a detective who does not have extensive experience in forensic interviewing. Lots of kids don't show any outward signs of abuse, so not showing any signs is not a great indicator that nothing is happening. In my mind, the consequences of ignoring it when there's something going on are greater than the consequences of reporting it when nothing happened. Time is of the essence here, as physical evidence is typically gone after 72 hours.
posted by quiet coyote at 9:24 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, being the daughter of someone who was falsely accused of child molestation (and the mentally-ill drugged up ex later admitted it after the fact [but that doesn't change anything because of the new sex offender laws]), I would like to advise you that if you would be literally messing with someone's life.
Since the parent's feel fine about it, I'm guessing the issue will be dropped if you decide to get the police involved and the employee denies it.

If you feel this needs to be done, I guess go ahead an call the police, though. Otherwise you'll never let it go, IMO.

I know three year-olds vary in their speech, but maybe he did say "wiped". Or maybe he meant something else. My nephew gets his words confused and says some ridiculous things - I don't if its stuff he's seen on television or in dreams - or maybe he's not using words correctly. Like, he's say that the store was one fire.

And no offense to you, but since all this sex-offender stuff came into the media so strong, a lot people think that everything could be a possible sign of a sex offender.
I've had a lady in the grocery store tell me there was a "child molester" in the next aisle. When I asked her to clarify she said, "I saw him staring at my daughter."
I mean, really?
posted by KogeLiz at 9:34 AM on February 6, 2011


good lord. I apologize for my numerous typos
posted by KogeLiz at 9:35 AM on February 6, 2011


Three year olds say MANY things that seem bad/wrong/incorrect to us. Having a degree in Early Childhood Education and four kids of my own I would say that it is highly possible he is confusing the meaning of the word licked with wiped. Just yesterday my three year old son asked me, "Why is your sock broken?" when pointing to a hole in my sock. Further, kids are fickle, and three year olds will often tell stories that aren't true or aren't exactly true and not realize that they're telling "a lie".
posted by allthewhile at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with folks who say leave it up to the parents at this point.

As a related anecdote: When my best friend's son was about that age, he told them a story about his grandfather touching his penis. They wondered what to do and how alarmed to be. But their son didn't seem distressed, and he was just as happy as ever to see his grandpa and hang out with him. As with many 3-year-olds, he often told stories that were half-true or hard to make sense of. They ended up choosing a wait-and-watch approach, and told their son to be sure to tell them if it ever happened again. Their son is almost 11 now and there's never been any indication of anything wrong.

My best friend is a survivor of some pretty horrific childhood sexual abuse herself, so she isn't someone who would take this kind of concern lightly. She just ended up, after some discussion and reflection, feeling like in the context of things her son's comment was enough to make her watchful but not enough to take drastic action.
posted by not that girl at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I assume you're not a mandatory reporter? Because many people, such as teachers, doctors and lawyers are required to report child abuse or even suspected child abuse. Anyway, you can contact police if you want to, although keep in mind this could impact your relationship with your grandson's parents, since they don't think anything happened and they will deeply resent your intrusion (even if it turns out that your grandson really was molested. It's possible the real problem here is the parents don't want to admit the possibility that abuse occurred at a day care they selected.)

Most states and counties do have child abuse interviewing centers. Not all of them are professionally run, however. I'm currently working on a case where a cop conducted multiple interviews with child victims in one of these facilities (instead of having a doctor or staff worker do the interview), then when the victims said nothing happened, the cop accused them of lying and basically re-victimized the kids. Oh, and then the cop was fired. Hopefully things are better where you're at.
posted by Happydaz at 9:45 AM on February 6, 2011


Seconding quiet coyote that the most effective way to get at the truth is likely going to be a professional interview of the child rather than continued interrogation by you and the parents, as you don't really know what you're doing.

(No opinion here on whether there's cause to be alarmed or whether you should butt out and just let the parents deal with it.)
posted by J. Wilson at 9:48 AM on February 6, 2011


Anyone remember this comment? Anecdotes about "this happened to a friend and it was nothing" or "lots of kids say things they don't mean" have NO bearing on this case. Especially anecdotes that aren't about kids making false reports- a drug addled ex making a false report is qualitatively different. It's not your job, or the job of people on Metafilter, to suss this out for you- it's the job of a professional.

Also, suggesting with little information to go on that you not to report for fear of ruining someone's life is an essential part of a culture that supports child sexual abuse and other types of sexual violence and protects its perpetrators. Not that that concern should be disregarded, but it should be weighed carefully against the potential harm if there is abuse happening.
posted by quiet coyote at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2011 [11 favorites]



I think there is something going on that shouldn't be ignored.


I agree, and as has been noted above, there are ways to proceed that are safer and more productive for the child and the family.

Also, suggesting with little information to go on that you not to report for fear of ruining someone's life is an essential part of a culture that supports child sexual abuse and other types of sexual violence and protects its perpetrators. Not that that concern should be disregarded, but it should be weighed carefully against the potential harm if there is abuse happening.

Also agreed. If you "just butt out" and this child is being abused, you will be one more person who has failed to protect them.
posted by liketitanic at 10:04 AM on February 6, 2011


I wish I could have my account re-activated just for these kinds of questions where I just can't ignore them.

As I preface all of these types of answers, I am married to a an early childhood education consultant who has been in her field for 16 years. In that time she has never heard of a credible case of sexual misconduct at a daycare/preschool. It has has happened, but the odds are very, very slim.

Children don't have a pure sense of reality. My toddler told me this morning that she rode a horse in our yard yesterday. We don't have a horse. Our yard is not big enough for a horse to take more than a couple steps in any direction. Our yard is covered in three feet of snow. My daughter didn't go outside yesterday except to get to the car and back once. My daughter has never actually been on a horse. There's absolutely no basis to the story, and that's fine and normal. I feel a little uncomfortable when my daughter tells us that she has a pet chipmunk that lives in a quart-sized empty yogurt container; my wife thinks its great and indicative of good dramatic play skills which equate to one facet of positive mental development.

The odds are incredibly slanted to your grandson having fabricated this story or you simply misunderstanding what he said. There simply aren't that many people that sexually abnormal out there, even fewer sociopathic enough to act on those urges. and even fewer in regular employment. The more you question him about it, the more you're affirming the story and making it seem real to him.

There is nothing going on besides a reflection of your anxiety about your grandson being cared for by people outside your family. And it's normal. I've wondered what affects to my daughter's development are going on when I and people whom I explicitly know and trust aren't there. Unfortunately the geographic and economic realities for my family is that she has to be partially in the hands of outsiders. (fortunately for me, my child is in the hands of people who know much more about her intellectual and emotional needs than I am capable of learning).

Your child and in-law are correct in not pursuing this, because nothing happened. If they do pursue it with the only evidence being "his grandmother believes that he told her..." then there are two possible outcomes:

1. The daycare administration will believe that your family is irrational/hysterical or fixing for a lawsuit. Further dealings between daycare and parents will reflect this. Depending on the size of your community and the level of interaction between daycare providers, other facilities will know that this was an issue should they decide to mention it and switch facilities.

2. The other option is that the worker will have to hear of this accusation of which he is in all likelihood not remotely guilty of and he is in all likelihood as disgusted by the thought of someone acting in that manner as you are. Imagine if it was suggested someone felt that you were a child molestor-- he'll feel the same way, except worse because it could destroy his livelihood. Which brings up the worst-case scenario: depending on labor laws and temperament of this administration he could be fired without a reference and quite likely blacklisted from working in the profession.

Your grandson's parents are taking the right action, which is nothing based on the available evidence. Please trust their judgment and don't escalate this unless you find further evidence. And please don't further question your grandson about it-- you're risking scarring him every time you bring it up.

I apologize for the slightly sour tone of this, because I'm a parent of kid of about the same age and I really do have lots of empathy for your anxieties. But I needed to make it explicit that this something that must be dismissed unless you find much more compelling evidence than the stories of a toddler.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 10:17 AM on February 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'll say this and then I'll step out of this thread.

The odds are incredibly slanted to your grandson having fabricated this story or you simply misunderstanding what he said. There simply aren't that many people that sexually abnormal out there, even fewer sociopathic enough to act on those urges. and even fewer in regular employment.

This is misleading and bad information. About one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before the age of 17 (Briere & Elliott, 2003). Most of them will be abused by someone they know (Snyder, 2000), not some unemployed crazy person on the street.

Briere, J., & Elliott, D. M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in general population. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27, 1205-1222. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2003.09.008

Snyder, H. N. (2000) Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: Victim, incident and offender characteristics (NCJ 182990). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf

posted by quiet coyote at 10:25 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're in for a potential shit storm if you intervene against the parents' wishes. It might limit your contact to your grandkid if they are irritated with your interference.

That said, if you are truly concerned, you can make an anonymous call to Child Protective Services. If other calls have been made concerning the same child care facility but have been "unfounded," your call might tip the scales.

Go carefully. You don't want to be in a situation where your grandchild is in danger and you have limited availability to help him.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:31 AM on February 6, 2011


Wow, I am usually very skeptical about reports of daycare sexual abuse in light of the McMartin preschool hysteria, but in this case I would not hesitate to move the kid out of that daycare asap. I don't know if I would make any bigger deal out of it than that, but I would not keep my kid there for one more second.
posted by yarly at 10:36 AM on February 6, 2011


The kid's parents know the setup at the daycare. If they're not worried, you shouldn't be either. In every daycare center I've visited, the changing area is not at all secluded, and if somehow a pervert got hired, they wouldn't be able to randomly lick kids during diaper changes without being seen.

If the kid changed his story from "licked" to "wiped" it's probably because he had his words mixed up. Those are easy words to mistake. (I'm remembering one time when I bought my husband a fancy bottle of scotch for his birthday and told my 3 year old daughter that our present to him was "booze"; she later asked me when we were going to give daddy the "poop" we bought him.)

I would be anxious too if it were my grandchild. I would ask his parents for the reasons that they aren't anxious. They know more than you do about the kid and the center, and if they have sound reasons for not worrying, they'll be able to put your mind at ease.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2011


quiet coyote wrote: "This is misleading and bad information. About one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before the age of 17 (Briere & Elliott, 2003). Most of them will be abused by someone they know (Snyder, 2000), not some unemployed crazy person on the street.
I think it's great that you provided us with a citation, really, I appreciate it. For everyone else who doesn't want to hit google scholar, you can get teh Briere & Elliott paper here (PDF).

Now. I've actually just read the paper (quickly). You definitely left out some important, relevant info. About half of the reported sexual abuse is incest. So that would make it more like 1 in 14 boys or 1 in 6 girls who could be abused by someone like a daycare worker. Also, the typical age for first abuse is 10 +/- 4, so again, Mayor Peace Love and Unity's assertion that this is not common is looking less and less "misleading and bad."

The survey return rate was 65% (which is actually pretty good as these things go). But it's not hard to imagine that those who have something to report might be more likely to return the survey. (That's plausible but not proven, I grant.)

Also, as the authors point out, this was a survey of adults so it reflects childhood abuse rates of decades ago. We don't know whether it's the same now, better, or worse (but I think we know that sensational coverage has increased our perception of frequency.
posted by secretseasons at 11:25 AM on February 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


About one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before the age of 17 (Briere & Elliott, 2003). Most of them will be abused by someone they know (Snyder, 2000), not some unemployed crazy person on the street.

Yes, that's true. What you're leaving out, of course, is that the vast, vast, vast, VAST majority of those cases the "someone they know" is a family member or friend of the family. Not a child-care worker.

You don't say so explicitly, but if this is a child care facility or pre-school (vs. an in-home care situation) there are likely firm rules in place about two-deep adult supervision that would make the odds of this happening - especially during a routine diaper change - so low as to be virtually impossible.

Whatever else you do you should stop talking to him about it. Things will only get more confusing if you keep asking him questions about it. Instead, ask yourself these questions: does he seem excited to go back to school? Or scared? Anxious? That in and of itself will tell you quite a bit. Also, he is absolutely going to pick up on any strong emotional reaction you're having.

Have you ever visited this facility? Talked to the staff? If the answer is no, I'd honestly advise you to defer to his parents in this case. If possible, maybe arrange to visit yourself if you haven't been.

My son is four, and has been in care since he was 12 weeks old. For ages he had issues confusing the words "kicked" and "picked" so instead of telling us that his care provider had picked him (for a game or a turn at something) we would hear that she'd kicked him. There are a ton of language issues with little kids that his parents may be more sensitive to than you are. My son also once told me that his father had bitten him when I knew what happened was that his father had tickled him (because I was there).

I know it can cause your heart to leap to your throat when you hear this kind of thing, but I would strongly, strongly advise you to defer to his parents in this situation.
posted by anastasiav at 11:27 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


i agree with others who say defer to the parents. they are his parents: they talk to him every day and know the vagaries of his speech and whether he is mixing up his words or telling stories. you, on the other hand, sound like you don't have daily contact with him and can only conjecture as to what he actually means based on your contact with him during a short visit.

that doesn't mean don't be more vigilant in the future as to what your grandchild says or for any signs of trauma. but it does mean that his parents are going to know more than you what he means when he says something and if they aren't concerned, then it's probably nothing you need to concern yourself with either.
posted by violetk at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2011


It's easy to become alarmed by things very young kids say. Our neighbour's four-year old told us last week that 'mummy keeps falling down the stairs because daddy pushes her'. We know this hasn't happened. It's just one of half a dozen ridiculous things she makes up every day. The next day it was an imaginary kitten that fell down the stairs and had to go to hospital.

And boys, especially around age 3-4, seem to be completed obsessed with their penises (peni?) I have at least one bizarre conversation a week with my four-year-old son about his 'winky' (I've no idea where he got that name for it).

Thirdly, little boys do get various bits of crud stuck around the base of the penis, and this needs wiping away when you change a diaper/nappy. I'd be fine with someone wiping my child's penis as part the post-toilet clean-up, if necessary.

But most importantly, you can't really take some random thing a small child says in isolation and act on it. You've got to look at the whole picture - patterns of behaviour, aversions to certain things or certain people, your own gut feelings about whether there's 'something wrong'. It's the parents' call. Trust their instincts before your own.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2011


OK, there are people in this thread who know way more about this than I do, but I will say that in my observation, kids love repeating things that shock adults. Your grandson probably has no idea why this sentence is getting you so agitated, and it honestly doesn't matter to him whether it's true or not, because freaking grandma out is deeply satisfying. This is why it's so bad when kids learn swears.

So, regardless of what you decide to do about this, please try NOT to react in a way he can observe, because if you do he's going to start accusing every stranger on the street of licking his peepee. It sounds like you've already reacted a little, but please just stop talking about it with him and if he brings it up again, don't act like this is something remarkable for him to say. It makes him a less credible witness if something bad actually is happening at his daycare, and if your son is anything like some of the kids I've had the pleasure of babysitting, it means you're going to be hearing about all the random TV characters who've licked his peepee for months.
posted by little light-giver at 2:00 PM on February 6, 2011


I have a decent amount of experience with this age, and there are a few things for you to think about:

Some kids are prone to make things up. Some kids have better verbal skills than others. In terms of a statement like this, I wouldn't automatically dismiss it just because of the age of the child. I used to watch a 3-year-old who would definitely know the difference between wiped and licked. He was not prone to imagining things and insisting they were true. Obviously, I wouldn't take everything he said at 100% face value, but he was reliable enough that I would be concerned about a statement like this. I wouldn't dismiss it just because of his age.

Of course, you know better than we do whether your child is more reality-based, or more prone to horse-in-the-backyard kinds of things. One factor to consider.

The other part to consider is the amount of access the male daycare worker has to your grandson. Do daycare workers regularly have access the the children behind closed doors? What are their policies about bathroom help, diaper changes, and the like? If there are strong policies in place that are well-enforced to counter this kind of incident/accusation, I would be much more comfortable with the situation. If the policies are hazy and this daycare worker is likely to have ongoing access to your grandson without any other adults present, I would be very concerned. This is something you might have to ascertain from his parents.

I do think that, at the very least, his parents should make a report to the daycare. If there is an ongoing pattern of similar accusations, the daycare should know. If there is no way that it happened (they have cameras, they were never alone together, etc) they will be able to report that to the parents.

It would be very unfortunate for an innocent person to be blacklisted from childcare, but unless you personally do the blacklisting, lie, or otherwise act unethically, it's not your responsibility.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:56 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I needed to make it explicit that this something that must be dismissed unless you find much more compelling evidence than the stories of a toddler.

No, this is wrong. If a child speaks up, you don't dismiss it. You bring in knowledgeable, expert people to determine through a proper investigation if it's likely true, or a made-up story. The attitude of "this doesn't happen to children, and if they say it does, they're making it up," is not new-found wisdom after the excesses of the 80s and early 90s, but actually an outdated and pernicious way of thinking that must never again be the standard for how children are treated in our society.

Were I you, I'd call Child Protective Services.
posted by palliser at 3:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dont' go to the police before, in order talking to:

his parents,
his carers,
the director at the centre,

Former childcare worker of fives years here. Nthing others that it's vanishingly unlikely this has happened, but either way talking about it to his carers and the director at the centre about their policies and interactions with your grandchild will probably put your mind at ease that he is in professional, accredited hands and being looked after in accordance with the law and a well-defined set of policies.
posted by smoke at 3:27 PM on February 6, 2011


I would talk about it with his parents and encourage them to speak with the director of the daycare center.

Perhaps it is something as simple as the employee saying "Just a lick and a promise" when changing children/helping them change (for those not familiar with the US saying "Just a lick and a promise," it means "instead of a full bath, one gives a quick rinse or wipe-down like a cat licking its paws, as one promises to do later"). Perhaps it is something as simple as vocabulary confusion (we use "lick" to mean a lot of things, like "put a lick of paint on that").

Or perhaps your grandson was molested. But the thing is that it's something to take seriously and inquire into, but not to freak out about.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2011


If a child speaks up, you don't dismiss it. You bring in knowledgeable, expert people to determine through a proper investigation if it's likely true, or a made-up story. The attitude of "this doesn't happen to children, and if they say it does, they're making it up," is not new-found wisdom after the excesses of the 80s and early 90s, but actually an outdated and pernicious way of thinking that must never again be the standard for how children are treated in our society.

I don't fundamentally disagree with you - BUT in this case its a very young child giving inconsistent stories about something that, in most daycare settings, would be very difficult to do. Calling in CPS - basically the nuclear option - would be a gross overreaction, and very likely would sever any kind of good relationship with the daycare, and possibly end someone's employment. No one here is saying this doesn't happen to children - but what we are saying is that in this particular situation the child's parents are in a much better position to make a decision about how serious the situation actually is.
posted by anastasiav at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Question:
Have you ever been to the daycare, and seen the layout and position of the change tables?

At most daycare places I've been to, they are right out in the open. Little kids toilets have either no, or half height doors, so that literally nothing can happen behind closed doors.

Something worth checking, as that could verify whether it was even physically possible for anything to happen to your grandchild, which might calm you mind.
posted by Elysum at 3:00 AM on February 7, 2011


Out of the clear blue, he said that a male worker at his daycare had molested him ("licked his pee pee" while changing diaper).

I would love to hear how the grandson specified "male worker" in his communication, or did you clarify that in your question based on the schedule of who takes care of him in the room? I ask because I find that an odd specification and wonder if a bias is entering into the equation here?

That being said, I agree wholeheartedly with the defer to the parents opinions.

A story: My 3 1/2 year old son told me the other day, "I don't love you, I love daddy." ... I asked him, "what does love mean?" ... his reply was, "love means you get to be the driver of a car and take it on long trips." ... kids confuse words and thoughts all the time.

If you're truly concerned, then keep an eye out and partner with the parents for a plan of action, but be mindful of the gravity of accusations.
posted by cyniczny at 5:38 AM on February 7, 2011


[This is a response from an anonymous commenter.]
IANAL, IANYL - I suggest that you research your state's mandatory reporting laws. Here's an informative writeup on the subject.

My advice would be to phone the experts and let them determine whether your grandson just has a fanciful imagination, or if there's something to his story. This is similar to the "go to the ER" advice you'll often read in threads asking for medical advice - from your description, no one on the Internet is going to be able to "diagnose" the situation with 100% certainty. Assuming neither you nor the child's parents are professionals in this area, you're also not qualified to assess the situation.

It would probably be a good idea to discuss it with the parents again - it would be best to have them on your side, but not necessary. If the law in your state classifies you as a mandatory reporter, you can explain that fact to them as the justification for your report.

If the law in your state doesn't classify you as a mandatory reporter, here's an easy out that offers some semblance of plausible deniability:
Discuss the incident with a friend who is classified as a mandatory reporter in your state (or tell the parents that you've done this) and explain to the parents that said mandatory reporter informed you that they are required to report the incident to CPS, but that they gave you the chance to do this, first, saying it would be better if the report came from you.

I've had to make a call to the CPS. It was a very tough call to make, but it was made easier for everyone by the fact that I called a friend for advice, first. I wasn't aware of mandatory reporting laws at the time, but this friend was classified as a mandatory reporter, and they told me that they had no choice but to report the incident. They gave me the chance to report it, first. I explained the situation to everyone involved, and it took the onus off of me - it was no longer my choice whether or not to make the call.
posted by cortex at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2011


I used to work with three-year-olds, and they really do say the darnedest things. They don't know all the the right words yet. They get a reaction for one crazy thing they've said, so they keep saying it. They see something on TV and then repeat it like it happened to them. They're three. That alone is no reason to discount something as serious as this, but it is a good reason to leave it up to his parents. Certainly consult them before you call the police.
posted by katillathehun at 1:04 PM on February 7, 2011


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