Monday, May 14, 2012

Costly Reporting Delay

A kindergarten teacher in Wichita, Kansas, was forced to resign and her teaching license was revoked because she delayed reporting suspected child abuse to authorities.  Donna Ford had taught for 17 years when she failed to comply with her school's policy requiring her to report suspected abuse "on the same day the suspicion arises."

Apparently, Ford informed the school principal, social worker, and counselor about her suspicion that a 6-year-old girl in her class was being abused by a teenager who was living in the child's home.  However, when she tried to report her suspicions to state authorities, her computer malfunctioned and it was over a week later when she finally submitted her report  — after the girl's mother advised Ford and other school officials that the teenager no longer lived with them.

Ford's supporters say she was unfairly punished, while a national support group for abuse victims called it "a powerful statement that protecting children is not something to be taken lightly."

In our previous post, we wrote about the Connecticut Supreme Court case that denied a school principal the right to sue after being fired for reporting child abuse.  When confronted with conflicting laws, policies, and people's reactions to child abuse, these cases remind us to keep focused on the children:  as a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services said, "When you're talking about the well-being – and survival, in some cases – of a child, it's better to err on the side of caution."