Reporting sexual abuse means taking risks. At this point in time, most of us are aware that multiple factors led to the abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar not being reported. Staff and parents were unaware and/or groomed, and his position made the allegations seem impossible. The truth is, there are so many reasons why people do not report abuse; however, reporting is the first step to healing. This is exactly why it is imperative that we believe the child and embrace our voices.
So, why don’t people report, and why is it important that they do?
- I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is actually maltreatment – It is not your job to determine if maltreatment is occurring, but you should always report when you see signs or have suspicions.
- I’m afraid of making a false accusation – Reporting does not mean you’re making an accusation of abuse. You’re simply reporting signs that have caused concern.
- I know these parents, and I don’t want to damage our relationship – The child’s wellbeing is the most important factor, and this must supersede our feelings towards any of the adults involved.
- I don’t want to make matters worse for the child – If abuse is occurring, you MUST take action. By not taking action, you are allowing the suspected abuse to continue and can certainly make matters worse for the child and their future.
When it comes down to it, adults have a responsibility to protect children. We can empower the children in our lives with the tools they need to protect themselves; however, we cannot put all of the responsibility on them. We must take risks and be advocates for those most vulnerable…our children.