Community Ombudsman: No question at all: Report child abuseWritten by Brandi Barhite | Associate Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Am I legally required to report child sexual abuse? Even if I’m not, should I report it anyway?
Don’t waste time asking questions. The answers are the same as they were before the Jerry Sandusky child abuse charges and the alleged Penn State cover-up.
“Everyone should report child abuse or neglect,” said Dean Sparks, executive director of Lucas County Children Services. “We have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect our children.”
Sparks said people who legally must report abuse to children services or to the police include schoolteachers, school employees, doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors and anyone who works with kids, Sparks said, reading from the Ohio Revised Code.
Many types of professions aren’t listed in this mandated reporting category, “but let’s get real, anyone with any integrity or concern about children should report it,” he said.
People should look for a variety of signs if they don’t witness something as blatant as a person violating a child. “That is an obvious sign, no question about it,” Sparks said.
Other signs that might not seem so obvious include:
- Adults who have relationships mostly with children, rather than people their own age.
- Adults who give expensive gifts or treats to children.
- Adults who spend time alone with a child, in particular when it goes against a policy established by a particular organization, such as the Boy Scouts.
“People who abuse children are good at setting up kids, separating them from the crowd, nurturing them and grooming them,” Sparks said.
He said it is better to report something suspicious than to remain quiet and let a possible case of abuse continue.
Reporting suspicions gets an investigation going, but that doesn’t mean abuse will always be uncovered. Sparks sais his staff is good at what it does and will thoroughly look into an accusation.
Sparks said the Sandusky case appalls him because it reportedly wasn’t just everyday people looking possible for signs of abuse.
According to the grand jury report, people actually saw the abuse happening and still did nothing.
“It just blows my mind,” he said. “It is not about doing what you are legally required to do; it is about doing what is right.”
To report a possible case of abuse, call (419) 213-CARE.
If you have a question for community ombudsman Brandi Barhite, email her at bbarhite@toledo freepress.com.