Absolutely Nothing in the first instance of discovery of abuse and that is the God awful truth. Simply don’t take it there until investigations have completed, it isn’t what they deal with.
Few if any agencies will actually inform parents of this fact, it is assumed by all that parents already know that it is the parents responsibility to act protectively for their children; child protection step in only when the parents have failed to do so. Which for most would seem to be obvious, however the majority of parents I have encountered in my life seem not to understand this role of the Child Protective Services.
The second assumption and most dangerous is that Parents know everything about protecting their children. There are awareness campaigns, research and courses yet nothing actually outlines for you step by step how to get your children help if there are suspicions of abuse.
From the day a mother falls pregnant parents are bombarded with massive volumes of advice both good and bad. There is parent shaming guilt tripping by parental volunteer organisations, mothers groups and schools. I would be amazed if any parent raising children today would feel themselves adequate, no matter how much advice they have in their toolbox which they regularly share with newly initiated friends.
The Child Protection Service exists to receive reports of suspected abuse and questionable behavior of children NOT in the care of the individual making the report.
In situations where the child IS in your care you are expected to take the child to a;
- Doctor – if there are visible signs of abuse,
- Psychologist – if there are behavioral red flags,
- Police – if your child has disclosed.
In fact you can consult all 3.
The Family Court of Australia exists to make decisions in relation to children when their parents or care giver’s are unable to reach agreement, it is a federal court operating under commonwealth law, they are not a criminal court, their procedures and processes, even applications marked emergency and crisis, take far too long to be heard and a decision made to be of any practical assistance in protecting a child. It simply isn’t their job, that is what Intervention Order’s obtained from the Magistrates Court; a State Court making an order which is enforceable under the Criminal Code in your state exists for that purpose, police can rapidly obtain and serve an IVO within hour’s, AND an IVO if requested can suspend any Family Court Order for up to 30 days while investigations can be done and charges laid. If the suspected offender was anyone other than your Ex Spouse would you take your suspicions to the family court? no you would not and the application would be thrown out on the first mention, because it is not the responsibility of the court, it is the role of the police.
I have found that it is incredibly important to allow children to speak directly to the people in authority throughout their life, rather than speaking for them, whether they are in a crisis or not. This is because it prepares them for if there ever is a crisis and for life in general. Without this practice with a parent holding their hand they can become scared to do so themselves when on their own, this includes in meetings with Principals and Teachers, Interviews with Police and Doctors and Specialist appointments, as a parent your role is to supervise and ensure appropriate services are obtained not to do it for them. Even at the age of 5 your child can answer the doctors questions; even if you fill in any gaps later.
It is absolutely critical that we as parents foster healthy communication with professionals outside of our home. This is a protective factor for our children.
Absolutely NEVER threaten your children with police to gain their compliance not only are threats a form of abuse in and of themselves it damages a child’s perception of police and the legal system.
The legal system exists to protect citizens of the country in which they have power.
We may get frustrated with the time it takes to be processed and heard by the court, along with the seeming ineffectiveness of Police, we may even want to groan when pulled over for an RBT or got caught speeding; however the truth is that if we raise our children actively teaching them to respect police and the courts, along with giving them the knowledge and belief that the court exists for the purpose of hearing them, giving EVERYONE a chance to be heard (which is why it takes so long and is so frustrating as everyone gets their turn to speak even if you don’t agree with them) when in a pinch whether they have shop lifted, been in a car accident, been assaulted or been detained their response will be appropriate and contained, they will be less likely to lash out in fear getting themselves in more trouble and more likely to navigate what is ahead of them with questions and guidance, including feeling safe to approach police when they are scared and lost or in trouble.