Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mandatory Reporting

Okay, for those of you who read and don't know, I am applying for an internship at the DA's office. I'm not totally clear on the boundaries here, but either now, or if I get it, I will be a mandatory reporter for cases of known child abuse and neglect. This means that if I don't report something, I could get in serious trouble. As in, be held in contempt and receive jail time. Fun, huh? So here is my problem. My father is emotionally abusive to his family, but mostly to his wife. He has never hit her, myself, or my step-sister, even though he has threatened to several times. He displays many characteristics of an abuser (because he is one) but doesn't batter. As far as I know, there are no laws against this in Eastern State. However, he has spanked his children when they don't do what he wants. He has spanked them with a spoon. A wooden spoon, from the kitchen.

Now, when he threatened to beat me with his belt when I was in the 8th grade, he told me that I couldn't report it to CPS because it wasn't abuse if he didn't leave bruises. This is where I'm torn: I know that his logic is false, but I don't know how far it has to go before it is considered abuse. Does spanking a child with a spoon constitute as discipline, or as abuse? And if I did report it, who would I report to? Telling the DA of my office wouldn't do much because they have no jurisdiction over the county that my father lives in. If I reported it to CPS in Eastern State, what would they do? Would they tell him that I reported him? Do I get in trouble if I don't report my own family?