When you put your child in the care of another adult, you trust they will protect, care for and treat your son or daughter with respect. Yet, all too often news reports tell stories of the complete opposite. Such is the case in the recently-released list of Diocesan priests in Hartford, Bridgeport, Norwich as well as Jesuit priests who have been accused of abusing minors.
Sadly, abuse can have long-lasting effects on a child. Perhaps even worse is the history of abuse allegations made against Catholic or Jesuit priests, which the church has often ignored by moving a priest to another location without respect to proper investigation or punishment. In light of the list of priests who have abused minors, you might be wise to consider how to spot signs of abuse and learn about the laws governing the reports of such suspicions.
What could cause you to believe someone is abusing a child?
To some extent, keeping things from others is a normal part of the human experience. But for impressionable children, under age 18, this could be especially true when coerced into keeping secrets about things they believe to be wrong. They could feel threatened, ashamed or uncomfortable with questioning an adult in authority.
But mistreatment can result in red flags, such as:
· Withdrawing from people or activities a child typically enjoys
· Behavioral changes resulting in depression, anger or aggression
· Harmful activities or suicidal ideation
· Sudden reluctance to go somewhere, or be around someone, the child enjoys
Though these signs may not indicate inappropriate behavior directed toward a child, you are well within your rights to report suspicions of wrongdoing.
Under which circumstances must you report alleged abuse?
While you should always keep a protective eye out for children, there are laws which require certain people to report suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement or the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Among others, those designated as mandated reporters include medical professionals, school employees and clergymen.