to call or not to call

So today I noticed, half-way through a busy morning, that Kid had a weird mark on his face.  I looked at it closer, and thought, that looks suspicious.  I asked Miss Nelson if she’d noticed it, and she said she had, but that she thought it was fine. 

We asked Kid how he got that owie and he said, stumbling and stuttering, that it was from falling off a skateboard.  How do you get a scab in the outline of  a circle, with a dot scab in the middle of it, from falling off a skateboard?  (The scab looks a bit like a tiny Target logo.)

I took him to the nurse, to Miss Nelson’s chagrin, and on my way saw the social worker.  She looked concerned, and told me later she was thinking the same thing I was.  The nurse then looked at it, and said it out loud.  Cigarette burn?

So then the issue is whether or not to report it.  Kid is not articulate; he cannot tell a coherent story to save his life.  He kept saying it was from falling off a skateboard.

I went back to the room and told Miss Nelson our suspicions.  She got agitated, because she finally has Kid’s mom back in contact with us, and the relationship is good at present.  And…Kid’s mom did finally take him to the doctor for the infections, and he is recovering nicely.

We finally decided that I would call Mom.  Mom stuck to the story — it was a skateboard injury.  She said it happened when her kids were at the park, and that’s what they told her happened.

So for now we are going to go with that.  We’ve got no evidence that someone harmed him, other than a strange mark on his face.

But I’ve been feeling awful all day, and I think this is the cause.

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8 thoughts on “to call or not to call

  1. Don’t get too frustrated. You did exactly what you needed to do. This happened to me as well. I noticed these weird bruises on a girl’s arms. She told me it was from those wipe-off tattoos the kids like so much. I referred it to her classroom teacher and the social worker, suspecting something more sinister. Since the incident, I haven’t seen anything on that girl since, but it was good to be cautious.

    Cool blog. I love preschoolers…even when they drive you nuts, they’re so cute, aren’t they? 🙂

    Best,
    Mr. D
    http://mrdsneighborhood.com

  2. It is SO HARD being in that situation – not being sure, not knowing if you’re going to cause more harm than good, not getting any help in knowing from an inarticulate kid. If nothing else you now know that you want to be paying a little extra attention to Kid, observing him a little more closely for a while. And then go with your gut on the “right” thing (which may not be the *obvious* thing, in these cases) – mine has rarely steered me wrong when confronted with this.

  3. It sounds like you made the right decision but do not forget to document the incident in writing. That way if something else happens you will be able to give CPS the information .

  4. I always go ahead and call in those situations, if nothing else I just let cps know that I’m not sure. They can document it in the child’s file so that if it happens again and you are sure, then they know it’s happened twice. I let it be their call on whether or not they should investigate. I had a similiar situation where it turned out the child had been punched with the father’s ring. Turned out it wasn’t a burn, but also turned out it was still child abuse.
    I completely understand where Miss Nelson is coming from too, and I usually share that concern with CPS so they can be extra sure to make it confidential and to protect the school’s relationship with the parent.
    Good luck!

  5. The law HERE is pretty clear, if you have reason to suspect that something MIGHT have happened, you report. Let Child Protective Services decide. I don’t make their decisions for them. I’ve had them make BIG things out of things I didn’t think were much, and do nothing about things I thought were serious. In the end, I comply with the law and try to take care of my kids the best I can, within the limits of my job. Sometimes you wish you could do more for the kids.

  6. I no longer think it could be a cigarette burn. It isn’t blistered at all, and it’s in that weird Target logo shape. It’s also just a bit too large to be a cigarette burn.

    It’s just a scab on his face, and kids get those all the time. I’m not sure that he really did get it from a skateboard, but I don’t have any reason to think he got it from abuse.

    Thank you to all who responded; I really found your advice helpful.

  7. Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with any physical abuse yet. Sometimes I wonder about emotional abuse, but I have no proof at all. Just a hunch that things aren’t healthy at home for some children.

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