People say “the system” is flawed when they talk about social services. They say that social workers ignore abuse because they are sloppy, and lazy and don’t want to make an effort to do something about it. They ask the question, why report child abuse when nothing is going to be done about it anyway?
In recent days, I have come to understand that, yes the system is flawed. No, abuse is usually not found in initial investigations. Yes, it is frustrating when you know abuse is occuring, and nothing is done about it. But I have also learned that “the system” is only as good as the citizens of its community, and without solid reports of abuse that can be substantiated, social workers are often “working blind.”
Survivors of abuse know that abusive parents are very good at hiding abuse. We also know that abusers can stop abusive behaviors for 10 days (which is the length of an investigation), if they know they are being watched. Abuse is often not witnessed by social services for this very reason. People often turn their backs on social services when their initial referral does not result in the immediate removal of children from abusive homes. They do not take into consideration that the family may have been very compliant with the demands of social services, or very good at hiding the abuse.
One thing most people do not realize is that abusers will get sloppy ~ they will do something that cannot be hidden at some point. Yet, if there is no one to report it, social services cannot make an attempt to document it. The more reports that are made, and the more contact social services makes with a family, the more likely they are to catch abuse and the parents will be held responsible for their actions.
I am sick of hearing, “they won’t do anything.” Failure to report abuse is neglect. It is willfully turning your back on a child in need and creating an environment where abuse is tolerated. I think that we can either sit back and complain about “the system” and leave them to do the best they can with the small amount of information they can collect through family observation ~ or we can be their eyes and ears and watch for visible signs of abuse and neglect, make reports, and help them out by ensuring that they have enough information to make a case and protect the children who are being hurt.