As a child care professional and especially a treatment provider for children with special needs, I undergo extensive training in both professional development and licensing standards. While any information I learn during training is vital, during in-service today some pieces of knowledge stuck me more than others.
Child abuse is a major concern and recently has been the center of many newscasts, so my organization’s social worker gave a presentation on preventing such issues. While the information she gave pertains directly to specialists in my field, anyone can witness neglect of children and everyone has the right, even the obligation, to report it – it is as simple a visiting the CPS website and filling a report online. The most important thing I remembered, however, is that if you truly witnessed a child being exploited, report it, but state only what you know, do not say things that you think you might have seen or add bias and opinion. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has a list of questions asked during the report and maybe looking them over in advance can help in trying to guess on what you saw in the moment of speaking to a representative or filling out the questions online. If you are not sure about something, simply say “I don’t know,” rather than adding something to an accurate account that may or may not be true. Visit http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Contact_Us/report_abuse_faqs.asp for more information – you could save a future or even a life.
Another fact I discovered concerns parents or caregivers leaving children unattended in vehicles – this unfortunate practice and sometimes accident caused the life of 49 children in 2010. Nineteen states have laws prohibiting leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles, including Florida, Nevada and Texas. Punishment, depending on the severity of the case, ranges from a $200 to $10,000 fine to a Class C misdemeanor to a Class C felony. Bottom line, if you leave your young child in the car alone while picking up bread at the grocery store, you may be breaking your state’s law or what’s worse, you may be costing that child’s life.
Lots of important lessons today, have a happy evening and keep our children safe.