Thursday, March 18, 2004


one potato, two.

i spent yesterday trying to get some kind of help for the little girl who confided the abuse to me. i messed up in a number of ways. first, i was unclear about the rules regarding mandatory reporting, and while it seemed to me at the time that giving a girl who wasn't sure what she wanted to do an evening to think about her options wasn't so unreasonable, i was rightly scolded for letting a night go by before making the report. i did say, however, that i'd tried to report to a guidance counselor immediately--someone who could have corrected my misunderstanding about how urgent a response should be--but none were in the building. worse, i should never have let this poor little girl imagine that i could hear about what happened to her and not report it. her mother, it turns out, was adamant that she not tell anyone, and she's now petrified about how angry her mother will be when it comes out that the authorities have been notified. somehow, that's what got me the most--not even the story of the abuse, but the girl in front of me getting wide-eyed and teary at the prospect of disappointing her mother so grossly. and then everyone thought it was ridiculous when i cried, after realizing i'd done everything wrong and disappointed almost every party, and watching this girl's face fall into the dark.

what no one said all day, and i eventually had to tell myself, is that it was a good thing i was there, because she might not have told anyone otherwise. not because i'm willy wonka or anything, but because she's never had contact with any of the other counselors and probably wouldn't have had the notion or the opportunity to tell them. i don't know what's going to happen with her family, and i bet the call to ACS doesn't fix what's broken, but the small amount the system can do will now get done, and no matter how many people i pissed off while trying to do the right thing, at least it got done.


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