Imagine, hypothetically, that a junior co-worker comes to you, distraught, to tell you they witnessed a horrendously evil act by a senior colleague.
After you overcome the cognitive dissonance,
because it is hard to believe that your friend of several decades could do such thing,
what do you do?
This is a “nice guy”, you have known him since he was the hotshot young colleague, you are friend with his wife, know his kids; he is charming, affable, rich, powerful, generous.
He is prominent at The Club, he founded a multi-million dollar charity; half the lawyers in town are on the Board, they play golf with him, go to his $300 per plate fundraising dinners.
You know what to do: you are a Mandated Reporter by law
– you took the Mandated Training, there is a Process.
The process is important, because for so long these things were not reported, no one really knew how or who to report to. Fantasies of vigilante justice are cathartic but in reality just muddle the process and lead to the entirely wrong person being jailed for assault…
Now you must report, failure to do so is a misdemeanor.
The law is a bit opaque, fortunately large vulnerable institutions have a concise brochure (pdf) explaining your duties.
1) Mandated reporters: health personnel, educators or athletic coaches who come into contact with minors – CHECK
2) [You] are obligated to immediately notify the person in charge of the institution (e.g., head administrator) when child abuse is suspected.
The person in charge of the institution will make the report.
(If the person in charge of the institution is the suspected abuser, you must make the report yourself.)
3) If you have “reasonable cause to suspect” that someone is the victim of child abuse, you must report it immediately. First hand observation of abuse is not required.
NB Before 2007 the law only required reporting if you had first hand knowledge of the incident.
4) The head administrator calls the 1-800 number for State Reporting, reports to local police and attorney; then files written form CY-47 within 48 hours.
Oops nobody has form CY-47 (it is now on the web, as of about 2009 +-)
5) The designated reporter is not to initiate an investigation of the suspected abuse, and there may be no interference with any official investigation by the authorities.
6) The fact that a report of child abuse has been made and the content of the report must be kept confidential.
The designated reporter (ie head administrator) will be informed of the resolution of the case in particular whether charges were founded or unfounded.
This may take time. A prominent recent case took 3 years for charges to be brought, after the victim came forward first hand testimony was gathered, and that was with the State Attorney taking charge of the investigation from local County authorities.
Not quite the intended consequences of the process, eh?
We are quite poorly equipped to deal with charismatic organised sociopaths.