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What to do when boundaries have been violated?

Discussion in 'General Support and Advice' started by Joe2001, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. Joe2001

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    I spend 2 hours every Wednesday volunteering at a primary school.

    I'm usually assigned to work with the most difficult child in the class who I think is autistic or something similar. I'm not a person that typically enjoys being around kids so I find it really challenging. However, I am up to the job.

    That changed today. He acted as if he wanted to be physically closer to me and later touched me inappropriately on 2 occasions alongside putting his hand in my pocket for some reason.

    As this is a child (and one who has issues), it doesn't seem like I can do anything, however this behaviour is totally out of order and I'm unsure of what course of action to take. I appreciate that people may have difficulties in their lives, but I don't want to turn up somewhere for that to happen.

    This is a complicated situation. What should I do?
     
  2. Chip

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    A lot hinges on the age of the child, and whether the child has any intellectual or other disabilities. When you say the touch was inappropriate, can you describe in more detail? Depending on the nature of it, it is possible you might be looking at someone who has been sexually abused, in which case a discussion with his teacher or the school social worker might be advised.

    I can't give much more specific suggestions until the above questions are answered.
     
  3. Joe2001

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    I believe he is 8. Seems to have a lot of intellectual issues but I'm not sure what they are. Clearly not bad enough as he's still in a mainstream school.

    There were a couple of touches, just to inappropriate areas. The point about possible abuse is alarming and could very well explain it. I think that alone means I have to get in contact with that school ASAP.
     
  4. Chip

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    Well... again, since you didn't specify where the "inappropriate areas" are, I can't really clarify. Keep in mind, you shouldn't go and say "I think this kid has an abuse issue". What you could say is something like "This kid seemed to want to attach strongly, and he reached to touch my (groin/crotch/penis/whatever) twice. I gently guided him away from that, but wasn't sure how to handle this, but I know that those behaviors can be a sign of the child having been exposed to inappropriate touching or sexual activity, so I thought you'd want to know"

    That way, you've covered yourself, shared the information, and what they do with it is their responsibility. But you have to be able to specify what inappropriate touching occurred, because that can mean many things to many different people, so clarity and specificity is important here.
     
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  5. Shorthaul

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    I'm not all that familiar with schools outside the US, but it is not uncommon for parents to ignore any developmental problems their kids have until the school cannot do anything to help the kid anymore without getting the parents involved.

    But yes I think you should let the school know about it.
     
  6. Biguyjosh

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    Unless you're an expert in abuse I wouldn't make a statement like that as it could require a report to child services and an investigation. I do think you need to protect yourself and report the touching to his teacher. I'd simply say "last week johnny touched my butt twice or twice tried to touch my crotch and I'm uncomfortable around him as I don't want anyone to think I'm doing something inappropriate."
     
  7. Chierro

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    Definitely take Chip's advice. If he has an intellectual disability then it's also possible that he has developmental delays and could possibly not recognize inappropriate touch. I mean, some kids can be touchy feely and if they're not educated on appropriate and inappropriate touch, they may not know the difference. Also, the fact that he's in a mainstream school means nothing regarding the severity of a disability, at least in the US, most students are placed in a mainstream environment as much as possible and reasonable for them.

    If the situation makes you feel uncomfortable, I would highly recommend talking to the kid's teacher using the advice Chip gave. It could very well be the teacher is already aware of this and could explain it (or not, depending on confidentiality). It could be abuse, it could not be. You clearly feel uncomfortable about what happened, though, and that warrants just talking to the teacher and airing out your concerns with them.

    I definitely would not just contact the school and say "I think so and so is being abused."
     
  8. KyleD

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    Hi Joe, do you think the inappropriate touching you speak of is accidental, intentional or just made in jest? I work in a primary school and kids can be touchy feely sometimes so you can't judge them as if you would judge an adult. Some kids don't have any understanding of boundaries and it's something that you have to teach them by simply saying, "You don't touch an adult right there, ok?" If he continues then that is the time you need to speak to his parents or with the school administration. You simply state what has happened, "Today your child/the student touched me on my genitals." That's all you need to say without any type of insinuation or judgement as to his psychological makeup etc.
     
  9. KyleD

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    Furthermore, you have to look at your own psychological state as well. There are not many men in primary education so the fact that you are uncomfortable around children means it's best not to rush to judgement when it comes to a particular child. As time goes on you will get more comfortable and will understand them better. Kids are really touchy feely and crave to be hugged and touched by adults but most men are not comfortable with this.
     
  10. Chip

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    If you're referring to my comment, there's no liability in stating what I said (basically spelling out that it *might* be a possibility, and should be explored.) I am a mandatory reporter, and based on the training I received, a report like that would not necessitate a report to CPS. It would, however, necessitate further exploration (a meeting with the kid with the school social worker, in this case, to screen for potential abuse). The reason I was suggesting mentioning the possibility is, basically, to ensure that whomever it is reported to takes it seriously. With a report like that, a teacher would *have* to do further investigation, or would become liable for not investigating.

    Even for people who aren't mandatory reporters, it's certainly the ethical thing to do to report to one's supervisor any incidents that could indicate more serious concerns.
     
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  11. weary

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    I was going to pipe in here because I am a mandated reporter for CPS, and I work with kids, but @Chip has already given the advice I would give. Further investigation is probably warranted but you've got to be specific in the details and not make generalizations.
     
  12. Kevin k

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    Abort the situation immediately. If you feel uncomfortable with events that are occurring, diffuse the stituation as quickly as possible. I had to physically push my boyfriends sister that tried to seduce me. If you feel violated in any context, I don't think yiu should have to deal with that. Sorry for the short demeaner, I'm not in the best mood atm.