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worker are being lessened, and we think that all those things need to be looked into.
We don't know whether this is going to be the proper forum. whether you would wish to submit a list of questions to Mr. Yeldell or not, but we think that if the records of these hearings are going to go to City Council, these are definitely issues that must be addressed if we are going to improve services to neglected and abused children in this city.
Mr. MAZZOLI. Thank you.
Ms. STEIN. If I might, I just would like to make a comment on the reporting, because several things came to my mind while I was listening to the questions and the answers.
I think that it might be important to find out, in order to answer many of the concerns of the committee about what kind of incentive must we provide to get the proper kind of reporting, to find out what the policies of some of the public agencies who are in a good position to help us find some of these cases are about reporting.
It is my experience, with the acquaintances of mine who are involved in the school system, for instance, that the school system actually discourages and forbids some of its employees from reporting child neglect cases farther than to the school, and that many of these cases thus do go no further.
I think that there should be an inquiry to the school programs, to recreation programs, to various day care programs, to find out what their policy present is, and to find out whether, perhaps, we might not be able to improve reporting by requiring public agencies to follow certain procedures, by setting up certain training programs, perhaps, and at least encourage individuals within the system to make reporting.
I would like to add a few explanations to why I think doctors don't report. Ms. Huhn said she thinks that a major reason is that they don't want to spend time in court. I suggest that is one reason. I hate to say it, I think one other reason is a lot of doctors just don't care, and just aren't interested. And I think perhaps another verv major reason is, even though we may grant them immunity from civil or criminal liability, that does not grant them immunity from being sued, so that if a doctor does report a case in good faith, the people who have been reported still can sue. They may not be able to collect, but there would have to be a hearing on whether, in fact, the report was made in good faith.
So, I suggest that we certainly don't want to take away people's right to sue and to prove that a case has been reported maliciously, but we may have to counterbalance that with an equal threat to the doctor, and it is unfortunate, and I think if we are concerned about children we do want the cases reported, and it may be that a doctor says, well, I don't even want the threat of a suit. and we have to say to him, look, you have got the threat of a suit whichever way you go, so please use your conscience and when a case really is an abuse case, you must report it.
Ms. RILEY. Could I comment on that, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MAZZOLI. Yes.
MS. RILEY. There is an article that came out by Sidney Wasserman called "The Abused Parent of the Abused Child." In 1960 there was a study done which he reported on which said that a fifth of the nearly 200 physicians questioned in Washington, D.C. said they rarely or never considered the battered child syndrome when seeing an injured child, and of course said that they would not report a suspected case, even if protected by law against legal action by the parents. And he goes on to summarize that apparently they did not believe the evidence would stand up in court.
I would further submit that there are other problems that some of the doctors that I have talked to-even in a case where a women had already killed one of the children-that it seems that there is a feeling that, well, I know Mrs. so and so, and she is a relatively good mother. It is very difficult, even for psychiatrist and psychiatric social workers, and social workers to accept that parents abuse. I think even some of the references that were made from the Chair and from some of the other Congressmen today show that it is a very difficult thing psychologically to accept that people would do such a thing to their children. It is also very difficult when you have a relationship, such as myself, as a psychiatric social worker dealing with these parents closely, it is very difficulty to try to decide when you are going to report something. So that there are lots of emotional things that come into it, as well as the fear of having to go into court and take up their time and that sort of thing.
Ms. GALDI. Could I make an addition to Ms. Riley's comment?
Ms. GALDI. I forgot to state, I was a protective services social worker with the Department of Human Resources. I worked for the department off and on about 5 years. I resigned last year, so I have been away from it for a year.
One of the reasons, in this community, that professionals such as physicians don't report is the poor track record of the community in dealing with the problem.
Who has confidence? I can speak as one who worked and removed children. Who has confidence that in the District of Columbia either the abused child or the abusing parents are going to receive adequate services?
When you read editorials in the Washington Post about, you know, nothing good is happening in child services, the history-the community simply does not have confidence that children in this city are a priority issue, and we are hoping, you know, in the coming six months that the community will have an impact in making policy. But I really believe that that is a factor in whether or not a physician decides he wants to get involved with a chaotic system. Particularly private physicians who do have a relationship and have a real personal concern, they say, in the end it is going to hurt the family more, or hurt the child more, because I don't really understand what it is all about anyway. Why should I subject my people, to an unwieldy and perhaps unfeeling system.
Mr. MAZZOLI. We are supposed to get some testimony, at least a written statement, from the D.C. Medical Society, and we might try to get something from the American Medical Association.
It occurs to me that doctors who don't normally see children, for instance, who maybe are not pediatricians, might have a difficult time really establishing whether or not this broken arm or this broken leg came from child abuse as against falling down steps.
Obviously, if you see severe bruising and you see signs of old scars and you see this type of thing, why, I would guess that most lay people could indicate that something is perhaps amiss. But I can see where a doctor, even a professional pediatrician, for instance, would have maybe a difficult time unless he has seen that patient over a period of time, because this doesn't seem to show a pattern, which leads me to believe that may be record-keeping and repositories, or central clearinghouses and this type of thing might help the doctor to assure himself or herself that they are seeing the victim of child abuse, and therefore feel more comfortable in taking the next step. But it also occurs to me, too, though, that possibly assigning criminal penalties to this thing as an inducement to reporting may be counterproductive, to quote somebody's words here. It may hurt the other way around, particularly the lay people-those who have no medical background-you know, a day care worker. One of you mentioned day care personnel included babysitters, professional or nonprofessional, licensed or non-licensed babysitters. We are really getting far afield at that point. It seems we are beginning to put the criminal penalty on some 16-year-old girl who lives down the street somewhere, who is going to come in and watch your child, and then that child has herself the responsibility to either sound off or go to jail, or to suffer a thousand dollar penalty. So, it gets a little bit. tricky, and that is why I think really our devotion here ought to be to try to possibly do something to prevent child abuse where we can and encourage reporting by some sort of educational programs.
And I wondered if any of you women would know whether the Medical Society in this community has endeavored to educate, by way of newsletters, by way of seminars, by way of medical continuing educational programs, on that battered child syndrome?
Ms. RILEY. Mr. Chairman, I would like to make some comments on that.
First of all, certainly there are articles in the medical journals which I have seen, and there are independent kinds of things that are done occasionally, but the people who show up for that kind of workshop or forum are those who already tend to be interested and concerned and involved. They don't get to the people who either don't know it exists or care.
But, for instance, in the District a lot of the workshops where I have appeared have been not sponsored by DHR, for instance, which should be doing an education program. If you had a specialized center such as this, they would obviously take on this as one of their functions. It is allowed for in the bill.
There have been things like the nurses at D.C. General had spontaneously-their own little organization had an educational forum. Social workers had them, but they are independent of these agencies. They just happen to come about because of the interest and concern. I would like to agree with what you are saying about, you know, why put all these criminal and negative kinds of penalties to this, but we are certainly not going to push away people from reporting who
would have earlier reported, because they haven't been reporting, as we all know. The doctors have not reported.
This may put some constraints on them to report, but even though I consider it necessary to have some sort of penalty, because this has been the experience across the country-when we allowed for protection from civil suits, that obviously wasn't sufficient. Where we do come into difficulty is that if they have to report to the police this may be the problem.
Now, if there were a center, a focal point-it could be under DHR. I don't have any big problem with it being under DHR as long as it is a specialized service. But if there were a focal point where somebody could call to a center, which seems less punitive and less frightening, you know, where somebody is going to get help, and they could even refer clients.
They might not even make the call themselves, but a doctor might say to Mrs. Jones, look, there is a place that can help you, why don't you go see them and talk to them, where it doesn't have the protective services onus which is unfortunate, and not necessarily deserved, but where people think their children will automatically be taken away from them immediatley.
Mr. MAZZOLI. I understand that if the doctor simply told Mrs. Jones that she can get some help at XYZ that doesn't get him off the hook. He still has that responsibility; he still has that possible criminal burden sitting on his head.
Well, we have really talked this over all morning, and I think we have reached a point of diminishing returns. Everybody has a different idea of how this goes. I would judge it to be a pretty commonly held thought among social workers that there ought not to be a death penalty, that the penalty is not a deterrent.
Here we have people who are not for death penalties saying let's put a criminal sanction on doctors because this is going to get some kind of compliance. There is a certain inconsistency.
I think of my late father's famous statement, "it all depends on whose ox is being gored."
So, I think in this case, we feel-some of us, at least-that a criminal penalty might be too much. But on a more positive point, I do think that the matters we are putting on the record, including your very comprehensive scanning of these bills, and pointing out the difficulties and the omissions, and where additional words might help clear up the meanings, I am sure will be very helpful to those who will eventually have the responsibility to prepare some kind of legislation.
So, I think that we certainly are doing effective good, and your time has been well spent.
Congressman Stark isn't here. His counsel is. Does counsel have. questions?
Mr. JULYAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Riley, in your group therapy approach, what professionals work with you, where are they from?
Ms. RILEY. Well, I am a psychiatric social worker. I started the group. I brought in, initially, into the group a psychiatrist who ex
pressed some interest. He stayed for about 6 months, and left the group. I ran the group myself for another 6 months, and I just in the past month have taken on another psychiatric social worker who is co-leading this therapy group with me.
Mr. JULYAN. Have you ever had an abusive parent talk to the group? This was a question that was brounght up this morning about the parents anonymous approach, how they are in in many ways be the people who can best reach other abusive parents.
Ms. RILEY. No, it is not an educational type group. The family life education group would have been a possibility for that.
Unfortunately, when you get into the parents anonymous kind of group, we have nothing like that in the area that I am aware of, and not in the District, surely.
Jolly K. of the national group, I have heard her speak and she would be somebody who would be helpful. I had thought this morning as we were talking about perhaps having a citizen respresented on the team that certainly somebody who has not just been a battering parent, but somebody who has been a battering parent and who has worked out a lot of their problems.
Someone who has been in some sort of treatment over a period of time, could serve as sort of consultant to the group, just as you may have in halfway houses where a reformed convict is certainly considered by the people who are under that system as somebody who stands there as a model of where I can sometime expect to be. I think that that kind of a person could be very helpful on a team, a former battering parent who has worked out those problems successfully.
Mr. JULYAN. In your testimony you talked about limiting the program to families where there was a question of battering. Earlier this morning, Congressman Stark was trying to find this question, is there a way, before you have the battered child or the abused child that you can identify a potentially abusive situation.
If you limit the care to battered children and to their families, aren't you afraid that if there is any hope of getting the problem before it is too late, or before it has gone too far down the line, that you are going to miss it?
Ms. RILEY. Well, occasionally you will find both neglect and battering in the same family, but not usually. It is a very strange phenomenon in the battering family that this child who is battered is exceptionally well cared for, exceptionally well fed, well clothed and cleanly. I have seen many of these children myself first-hand. Often the battered child is well taken care of. It is sort of "the object of my hate, I have to take care of that object very well so I will continue to have that object of hate to spew my hate to."
So that not necessarily is there any correlation between neglect and battering parents. As a matter of fact, neglect tends to be a sin of omission where battering is a sin of commission, and there are quite different psychodynamics that go on with battering parents and neglecting parents. Sometimes they overlap, but not necessarily very frequently.
Now, you were talking earlier about other ways to determine who the battering parent will be. Certainly this is one of our big problem