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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

Mandated Reporters, Never Ignore Even a Halfway Disclosure from a Child

Police have charged a New Jersey assistant principal (AP) with multiple charges related to failure to make a mandated report. In November, a bus driver reported receiving a claim that a 12-year-old boy had harassed an 8-year-old girl. The AP interviewed the girl, who said the boy had touched her, but apparently didn't say where she was touched, only that she didn't like it. The AP viewed the bus video and saw the boy put his arm around the girl.  The boy in an interview denied any other touching, and the AP disciplined him for the behavior he saw on the video.

In February, the AP received more reports, watched the video again, saw inappropriate behavior with other children, and reported his suspicions to child protection authorities. Police, investigating the claims, decided to charge the AP for not reporting back in November. The DA claims that the AP's failure to report in November led to five more children "being repeatedly victimized and suffering irreparable harm that could have been avoided.”

That claim is rather weak. In most states, even if the AP had reported the November claim from the 8-year-old, overworked child protection authorities would only have reviewed the portion of the video showing her. With no corroborating video, it's more than likely that the caseworker would not have substantiated the child's claims. Even if the caseworker or police had interviewed the 12-year-old, it's doubtful that they could have learned more than a school administrator experienced in questioning children.

Nevertheless, law enforcement has the authority to bring these charges, and the AP no longer can work at his job. While he waits for the court system to hear his case, his bond conditions prohibit him from being in contact with minors or within 500 feet of “any areas where minors may typically congregate.”

The takeaway for youth organizations is, once again, err on the side of reporting.  Even though the vast majority of your reports will not be substantiated, reporting may be the only way to avoid losing your livelihood.

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[O]n Nov. 2, both the principal and Isgan received an email from a bus contractor at 5:11 p.m. The email states that it was reported to a bus driver that the 12-year-old sexually harassed an 8-year-old girl. The bus contractor said he watched the video and did not see the 12-year-old doing what was claimed, court documents state. . . . Isgan met with the 8-year-old girl and asked her what happened on the bus. The girl told Isgan the boy touched her and she didn’t like it . . . . Isgan viewed the Nov. 2 video footage from the school bus . . . but the footage doesn’t show inappropriate touching, according to Isgan’s report.


mandated report, youth services law, ausburn_deborah, insights