Reporting something to CPS essentially means that if you “see something, say something”. It’s the idea that if you witness, or even suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should report that to CPS so that they can investigate it. Mandatory reporting, on the other hand, is a little different. This is where the law requires that you report any suspicions you have about possible abuse or neglect. And if you don’t, you could be prosecuted.
Here in Michigan there is a list of professions that make people into mandatory reporters. This includes doctors, nurses, counsellors, therapists, teachers, day care workers, coaches, clergy, police officers, social workers, and many others. All of these people stand to lose their professional licenses (to say the least) if they are ever caught not reporting suspected abuse or neglect. But what if you aren’t sure?
A lot of things can look like abuse or neglect, but they aren’t!
Poverty looks a lot like neglect. Not having running water in your home, or enough food, or the right clothes that fit well and are seasonally appropriate can look like neglect. And as for abuse, there are a whole host of medical conditions and behavioral issues that can mimic the signs of abuse but aren’t. And what happens if an innocent parent gets reported to CPS? Surely if you’re innocent you have nothing to worry about, right? Oh, if only that were the case.
A recent article highlights the difficulties faced by mandatory reporters, both here in Michigan and around the country. In the article, they shared stories from people in two completely different socio-economic groups who were both terrified of the repercussions of mandatory reporting. One was a mom who had applied for state help, but because she was required to provide an address, and the family was living in their car at the time, she was too afraid of having her kids removed and she passed on the help. The other was a doctor who was too afraid to bring his child in to the hospital because he was afraid of the child abuse pediatricians making false allegations.
Fear of CPS changes the way people interact with professional helpers
Because mandated reporters have to report anything that might be abuse or neglect, there are a lot of things they are required to report that put struggling parents in an even harder position. And in poorer communities, that means that many people are too afraid to reach out for help because they’re not sure if they will be reported for something, and lose their kids as a result. Which means they go without the help they need.
Studies show that in poor communities, where the CPS presence is pervasive, even people who’ve never personally had interactions with CPS are afraid of them. They’ve known so many neighbors and friends who’ve had to fight the system just to keep their own kids, or worse – have lost their kids to the system, that they’re legitimately afraid. Which means they also choose not to reach out for help, even when they desperately need it!
It doesn’t have to be that way for you and your loved ones!
Fighting CPS is a massive undertaking. They seem to have limitless resources at their disposal, and the court seems inclined to listen to their perspective (even when it’s clearly wrong). But you don’t have to lie down and take it. You can fight back. And you’re chances of success increase significantly when you’re teamed up with experienced and aggressive CPS defense attorneys. So if CPS has come a-knocking, put on your fight face and call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. We’re here 24 hours a day to help.