Why “duty to report” isn’t enough

I am so blessed to know incredible teachers and artists who do amazing work by helping youth to express themselves. Once in a while, a youth will disclose that something awful has happened or is happening to them, and often this will happen in coded ways.

These messages are balloons that this youth is sending up. They signal that they are looking for help.

Sometimes, the teacher or facilitator will call Children’s Aid Services (CAS) and report the incident. CAS can help by creating a paper trail or a plan of action. Unless the youth has explicitly disclosed that something has happened, CAS’s hands are usually tied.

Sometimes, teachers and facilitators might see this as the endgame of how they can intervene; they might think, “I’ve done all I can do” by reporting.

The thing with Wen-Do is that it goes beyond the system’s burden-of-proof model. Through Wen-Do, I create spaces where youth can be served a healthy dose of “real talk” that speaks to their experiences. If there’s one thing that is taken away from youth who are abused, it’s power. It’s my goal to offer a way to bring that power back.

If you suspect that a youth is being abused, as an adult it is your legal duty to report. But please don’t give up once you’ve done so. Please be a hero and go beyond what is expected of you. Please seek preventative help, whether through me or another agency. Youth need adults who will advocate for them. Be a hero. Get in touch.