Child abuse in regards to Dungeons and Dragons IRL, how should such things be handled.

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest
It may not have been outright abuse and it's hard to assess much from the incident you related, after all, everyone has a bad day once in a while and loses their cool. But it's worth keeping your eyes open. If they're threatening to kick their kid out of the house at about 16 in a public venue, they don't seem to be deterred from publicly humiliating their kids. Done often or severely enough, that really is abuse.

If you're seriously concerned, suggest the older kid check out local youth services so he knows what kind of options he has if they do kick him out. Knowing his safety net options may help him chart his way through the stress if they lower the boom on him.
 

Celebrim

Legend
If you're seriously concerned, suggest the older kid check out local youth services...
How much experience do you have with what happens with "youth services"?

This is not a joke. This isn't a hypothetical now. This isn't an argument about something like whether low level PC's could know whether a troll is vulnerable to fire. These are real lives we are talking about mucking with. Any time you bring the authorities into this conversation, you are risking the health and safety of the minor, so you better damn well be sure that you are actually protecting the minor from an equivalent level of risk of death and bodily harm. This is not something you do on a whim or because you are offended.

We have an adult here that was complicit - however unwittingly - in encouraging a child to disobey his parents and sneak out of the house. And you are like wondering why the parents might have lost their cool? I related this story to my wife and she was like, "And he thinks he's the one that has a right to be angry?" So while we are on the subject, yeah I pretty much think I'd be the one offering apologies in this circumstance.

The reality of the world is that I had to explain to my children that there are monsters in the world. Some of those monsters are the sort that might want to prey on blond, blue-eyed girls. But some of those monsters are the sort of people that get offended because they decide they don't like how other parents are parenting. When my child at age 10 asked why they couldn't walk to a friends house alone, it was that later class of monsters that was foremost in my mind, because there are a lot more of them in the world than the overtly predatory kind.

Every once in a while some Christian or Christian community thinks it is a great idea to facilitate bringing children from non-religious homes (or other religions) into a religious context to bring about a conversion experience or get them baptized or whatever without the consent and knowledge of the parents. It's that sort of well-meaning stupidity that this notion that a parent banning a kid from playing an RPG and taking away their toys constitutes "abuse" reminds me of, and I think what's really going on here is not well meaning concern for the kids, but moral preening, bigotry, self-righteous, and a complete failure of empathy for cultures outside your experience.

If you think my language is tough and confrontational, then yes you are getting my drift accurately. I've been on EnWorld 15 years now and this is the first thread I've been in however heated that was actually freaking scary. All the useless verbiage about a leisure activity have nothing on the content of what is being argued right now. These are lives we are talking about. Don't squeeze any triggers unless you are sure of the consequences. I can't imagine what might have happened had someone like the OP "intervened" in my life, but it likely would have killed me. I don't know what is going on in that home, but the whole notion that what was witnessed was abuse would be humorous if the consequences involved weren't so terrible.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I’m not talking about Child Protective Services. I’m talking about counseling programs and youth services that deal with homeless kids and kids at risk. Because if that kid gets thrown out of his home, he’s going to be under a lot of stress. Better to know where to turn than be completely adrift.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I think that, since:

1) billd91 couched his advice in terms of “if you are genuinely concerned”,

2) in the context of how many of the responses so far in this thread are on the side of “not abuse” (and why), and

3) only the OP was there, and we don’t know anything beyond what was stated- like body language, tone, commentary by other witnesses

I think billd91 was actually giving good advice, seemingly not springing out of bigotry, but an abundance of caution.

...because sometimes the parents ARE monsters, and of a nature that rarely gets witnessed in public. Informing the kid of options without being accusatory or inflammatory may save him down the road. Or it may save a buddy of his whose parents are real-deal evil.

I’m not being flip about this; I’ve seen several permutations up close and personal, ranging from genuine sexual abuse of a minor perpetrated by a man on his kids to someone abusing the CPS system by falsely accusing my maternal aunt of abuse
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
That said, this seems FAR worse. They actually tossed something he had saved up his money for and bought. The threatened to toss his brother out on his own (16 years of age, there has to be something against that), simply for playing this game.
In many states, children have no property rights; any property they buy is actually property of their parents until they reach a specific age. That age varies by state, but in all US states is no older than 18.
Likewise, no child below a certain age (varies by state, but federal sets a minimum at 13, at least for internet uses) can sign a contract.

Edit to add: Last RPG book burning I saw advertised was around 2012.
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
I did not know what to do, except sit in stunned silence. However, it struck me that this was a situation of extreme child abuse. All of us at the venue were stunned though. I didn't quite know what to do. I don't think any of us did. Later I thought perhaps I should call the police, but what could I say? Would they actually categorize it as abuse?

It SOUNDS as extreme abuse to me.
This is your threshold of what constitutes extreme child abuse?
Wow....
You are so ignorant that you are dangerous.

What should you do?
1) Go educate yourself about child abuse. After you've properly horrified yourself....
2) As others have recommended, DO NOTHING. There's no abuse here. But you can make the situation worse for everyone (including you).
3) Pray that these parents don't decide to come after you for your role in corrupting their children. Sound absurd? It's not. You're the adult leader of an activity they've deemed inappropriate for their children.
4) Don't allow minors into your games without the express permission & knowledge of their parents.
5) Ponder this: What do you believe in? (don't post a reply, just think)
What values does your family operate under? Now what would you do when your child becomes involved in something that violates that & brings offensive material home?
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
Even though I really dislike religion, and consider religion to be actually harmful, I do not think you have a case here. And you open yourself to more legal trouble if you persist.

That said, one thing you can do to show that rpgs are not of the devil, is to point to the fact that a diocese here in Sweden actually published a couple of small rpgs in the 90's. The ones I remember was called "quo vadis?", and "vägen". The latter translates as "the way. Those games were about ethical situation in historical settings. And they use them in their confirmation-courses.

There has also been a number of article about how rpgs can be used in education, and the positive effects that can have.

Edited due to spelling errors when writing on the phone...
 
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Ulfgeir

Explorer
Solid advice for ANY activity involving kids doing activities with adults when the parents generally won’t be around to supervise/monitor/chaperone. Scouting, band, dance classes, sports...most require some sort of permission slips or adult signups.
That is a very good point. Minors can't legally enter contracts, and yes it is good to have the parent's permission that they are allowed to participate.

And we as adults should also do what we can to make sure that any such activities are as safe as possible. For example; I am an instructor in the archery club at home, and I had to get from the police a paper certifying that I have no serious convictions. The national sports organization will demand from next year if I recall correctly that all instructors hand in such papers to their clubs in order for them to be allowed to be around children. Same goes for example for teachers or kindergarten teachers when they start a new job.
 

S'mon

Legend
No it's not "severe child abuse", and you need to be really careful about using such terms.

It sounds like bad parenting to me. I thought it was bad parenting when my mother ripped up my Judge Dredd RPG. She was not 'abusing' me, never mind 'severely'. Likewise back in Northern Ireland in the early '90s I too had a player hauled off by Satanic-panicking mother. Not cool. Again, not 'abuse'.
 

S'mon

Legend
How much experience do you have with what happens with "youth services"?

This is not a joke. This isn't a hypothetical now. This isn't an argument about something like whether low level PC's could know whether a troll is vulnerable to fire. These are real lives we are talking about mucking with. Any time you bring the authorities into this conversation, you are risking the health and safety of the minor, so you better damn well be sure that you are actually protecting the minor from an equivalent level of risk of death and bodily harm. This is not something you do on a whim or because you are offended.

We have an adult here that was complicit - however unwittingly - in encouraging a child to disobey his parents and sneak out of the house. And you are like wondering why the parents might have lost their cool? I related this story to my wife and she was like, "And he thinks he's the one that has a right to be angry?" So while we are on the subject, yeah I pretty much think I'd be the one offering apologies in this circumstance.

The reality of the world is that I had to explain to my children that there are monsters in the world. Some of those monsters are the sort that might want to prey on blond, blue-eyed girls. But some of those monsters are the sort of people that get offended because they decide they don't like how other parents are parenting. When my child at age 10 asked why they couldn't walk to a friends house alone, it was that later class of monsters that was foremost in my mind, because there are a lot more of them in the world than the overtly predatory kind.

Every once in a while some Christian or Christian community thinks it is a great idea to facilitate bringing children from non-religious homes (or other religions) into a religious context to bring about a conversion experience or get them baptized or whatever without the consent and knowledge of the parents. It's that sort of well-meaning stupidity that this notion that a parent banning a kid from playing an RPG and taking away their toys constitutes "abuse" reminds me of, and I think what's really going on here is not well meaning concern for the kids, but moral preening, bigotry, self-righteous, and a complete failure of empathy for cultures outside your experience.

If you think my language is tough and confrontational, then yes you are getting my drift accurately. I've been on EnWorld 15 years now and this is the first thread I've been in however heated that was actually freaking scary. All the useless verbiage about a leisure activity have nothing on the content of what is being argued right now. These are lives we are talking about. Don't squeeze any triggers unless you are sure of the consequences. I can't imagine what might have happened had someone like the OP "intervened" in my life, but it likely would have killed me. I don't know what is going on in that home, but the whole notion that what was witnessed was abuse would be humorous if the consequences involved weren't so terrible.
This is exactly right. The OP needs to back the Hell off from this family. Not doing so endangers everyone involved - primarily he endangers himself, but the children & parents too.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think billd91 was actually giving good advice, seemingly not springing out of bigotry, but an abundance of caution.
I don't think billd's motivation is at all relevant to the wisdom of his advice - or lack of it. Especially as the OP clearly is 'genuinely concerned'. OP needs to listen to the people telling him not to get involved.

(It's not at all uncommon for bad parents to say 'If you do X, I'm kicking you out'. Yes this is bad parenting, calculated to make a child fearful & insecure. They very rarely follow through, whether they might actually do so is not something we or the OP can judge, and the OP's intervention is only going to make it worse; eg by presenting it to the child as a serious possibility they will create further fear & anxiety.
And for those of you who have never encountered this sort of parent IRL and are horrified by it, well I wish I was you!)
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
My sister kinda got kicked out age 17, not sure if it was that or she left. Divorce wasn't to far off at that point I was young.

80s though different context.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
(It's not at all uncommon for bad parents to say 'If you do X, I'm kicking you out'. Yes this is bad parenting, calculated to make a child fearful & insecure. They very rarely follow through, whether they might actually do so is not something we or the OP can judge, and the OP's intervention is only going to make it worse; eg by presenting it to the child as a serious possibility they will create further fear & anxiety.
I don’t know how common it is but two people I knew had it happen to them back in the 1980s while minors. That’s in a small, rural high school. So, it’s not like I haven’t seen the follow-through. Neither deserved it. They just had tyrannical parents and both were thrust into situations of suddenly having no support. They were both taken in by their friends, but one of those situations was still precarious.

If that elder kid thinks they could follow through, he needs to know his options. He needs to develop a strategy to protect himself. Hopefully, he has friends close enough and willing to take him in.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I’m not talking about Child Protective Services.
How about we start by acknowledging that perhaps it might be a good idea to stop contacting minors directly and going behind the parent's back in this, and try having an adult relationship with the parents and maybe start with an apology for your role in this and a statement that had you known, you would have in no fashion participated in an activity that involved sneaking out of the house and disobeying parents. If you are going to get further involved at all, that would seem like minimal standards of politeness here.

But given that the original poster went the outrage and "maybe this is extreme child abuse" route, and went online to try to drum up moral support for what amounts to a lynching of a minority group he was already likely prejudiced against, maybe this is not the best basis for going forward at all.
 
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S'mon

Legend
try having an adult relationship with the parents and maybe start with an apology for your role in this and a statement that had you known, you would have in no fashion participated in an activity that involved sneaking out of the house and disobeying parents.
I suspect that wouldn't be a good idea either. Better to leave well alone. Anything the OP does is likely to escalate it.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
and I think what's really going on here is not well meaning concern for the kids, but moral preening, bigotry, self-righteous, and a complete failure of empathy for cultures outside your experience.
If you think my language is tough and confrontational, then yes you are getting my drift accurately.

It isn't "tough". It is attributing rather ugly flaws of character to other posters. So, please assess whether you can continue in this discussion constructively, because another bit like that will not be acceptable.

In my first post in this thread, I made a note about how folks ought to behave. It wasn't in colored "Mod Voice" text, so, please allow me to reiterate:

How about we start with the statement that anyone who involves themselves in this thread should recognize that the topic is serious, and folks may have some very strident opinions on it, and everyone should carry themselves with some tact and understanding.

Let me expand that to - If you cannot keep your cool, this may not be the thread for you.

Everyone, do I make myself clear? Keep it chill, don't make it personal, don't get insulting, or take a powder. Don't expect huge amounts of leeway on this. If you have questions, please take them to PM.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
First point, I'm actually impressed by the responses in this thread so far. Well, not because they have all been wonderful or constructive, but what I mean is that I'm betting there are many of us who are members who have suffered bad child abuse as kids, and no one has jumped on the OP with "you think, that is bad, well, I dealt with x, y, and z so you don't have a clue what real child abuse is!" Possibly because of Umbran's warning above, but either way, a lot of folks deserve credit for not going that route because it really wouldn't lead to a constructive conversation.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, second point. I'm not an expert, but I am a child advocate and have worked with abuse victims for decades. When my parents got divorced when I was 12, my mom went to work for the county DA in the juvenile dept (she retired after 30 years a few years ago), so I also have that experience and her as a resource on the topic. Child abuse has an actual definition on a federal level, and what happened isn't close to child abuse. Nothing in what the OP described has the parents do an action, or due to lack of action, put the kids in imminent danger. States have their own definitions of what abuse is, but I'm pretty sure no state would have that fall under abuse either in my experience. I've seen actual physical and emotional abuse not be "officially" considered abuse by the state before because parental rights is still a big thing. Preventing playing D&D wouldn't come close to falling under that definition.

That said, the best advice in this thread is those who have said to drop it. Here are some analogies to help explain:

I also occasionally do firearms instruction. A few months ago one of my son's friends (18 years old, but lived at home still) asked if he could come out to the range and learn how to shoot. I told him I would need to make sure his parents were OK with that. Even at 18 since he lived with them still. Certainly if he was younger than 18. How would you feel if your teen kid just went out to the range with an adult and started shooting firearms without your consent? A lot of people would be upset, even though I could ensure total safety.

How would you feel if your kid went over to a person's house and they started preaching a religion to them, and encouraged the kid to perform in the rituals of that religion against your wishes? I'm sure you'd be pretty upset that they were doing that, and probably would have alarm bells of a cult or danger if it was a grown adult bringing children into these sessions.

Point is, you don't ever want to rock the boat of a family dynamic, even if you personally don't agree with it or don't see any danger. That way leads to big trouble for you, including but not limited to to restraining orders, arrests, and civil suits. Not to mention the horrible position you're putting the kids into. You're literally setting them up for failure, because they have to live with their parents, you don't. So each time you encourage them to break the rules, they are the ones who have to suffer the consequences, not you.

OK, I'll step off my pedestal now.
 
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