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

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Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I don't think this rises to the level of abuse. Parents are allowed to control what media and entertainment their kids can participate in. I think the threat to kick the 16 year old out is concerning, but it also could be nothing more than an empty threat. It is a little hard to tell from the OP if it was a serious threat or just something they say to keep the kids in line (or hyperbole----My dad used to say "I am going to kill you" but it was obvious to everyone listening there was no real lethal intent behind his words). I would advise the OP to not get involved.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think the threat to kick the 16 year old out is concerning, but it also could be nothing more than an empty threat.
With respect, "empty threat" may indicate it isn't meaningful to adults with only casual connections.

But, even if they never do it, a parent, likely the person the child is closest to in all the world, telling them, "I WILL REJECT YOU!" is meaningful, even if not carried out. You don't have to lay a hand on, or take physical actions against, a kid, but can still emotionally abuse them with such things.

Again, one instance is not terribly meaningful, and is certainly not actionable. But "empty threat" does not mitigate it.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
With respect, "empty threat" may indicate it isn't meaningful to adults with only casual connections.

But, even if they never do it, a parent, likely the person the child is closest to in all the world, telling them, "I WILL REJECT YOU!" is meaningful, even if not carried out. You don't have to lay a hand on, or take physical actions against, a kid, but can still emotionally abuse them with such things.

Again, one instance is not terribly meaningful, and is certainly not actionable. But "empty threat" does not mitigate it.
I am just saying people should be cautious assuming they know what it means and what their relationship with their kids are from this one account. I guess what I am saying is there are figures of speech parents use as threats that they don't really mean. I am not saying it will win they parent of the year. But I don't think it makes them child abusers. Like I said, my dad used to say "I am going to kill you", "I am going to ring your neck if you don't stop". I knew, and everyone in the room knew, there was no real intention behind the threats. It definitely wasn't emotional abuse. I think these days we are very literally minded. And I think that can create overreactions to things where we only see the text. Especially on the internet where all we have is text. But my point was, that is all we have in this case on this thread. We don't know the tone, the reaction of other people in the room except for the OP (and even if we get that, we just have the OP's point of view). I am not defending throwing kids out of the house at age 16. I am saying it could have just been words that had no real intention behind them. Which I think you might agree with without realizing it since even you say, it is difficult to extract meaning from one instance like this.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
With respect, "empty threat" may indicate it isn't meaningful to adults with only casual connections.

But, even if they never do it, a parent, likely the person the child is closest to in all the world, telling them, "I WILL REJECT YOU!" is meaningful, even if not carried out. You don't have to lay a hand on, or take physical actions against, a kid, but can still emotionally abuse them with such things.

Again, one instance is not terribly meaningful, and is certainly not actionable. But "empty threat" does not mitigate it.
When I was working in education, my districts training pointed to that kind of statement as a mandatory report situation.

This is not abuse.

Being an ignorant [snip] is not a criminal act.
That varies widely by where one is.

Psychological/Emotional abuse of children is in fact a crime in some US states.

The guardian threatening to withhold legally mandated standards of accommodation, sustenance, and/or education is considered abuse according to the trainings I've had to take. And while I've never had to report that one, I have had to report parents for various other things.

for example,
Alaska Statutes 47.17.290 said:
(3) “child abuse or neglect” means the physical injury or neglect, mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened thereby; in this paragraph, “mental injury” means an injury to the emotional well-being, or intellectual or psychological capacity of a child, as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child’s ability to function;
[Sec. 47.17.290. Definitions. – The Alaska Legal Resource Center]
And
Oregon Statutes 419B.005.1 said:
(F)Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child, including but not limited to the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care that is likely to endanger the health or welfare of the child.

(G)Threatened harm to a child, which means subjecting a child to a substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare.
 

WayneLigon

Adventurer
Yeah, do not under any circumstances pull the 'abuse' trigger. Anything that involves minors also involves a whole lot of legal shenanigans that can blow back on you and your group for years to come ("Contributing to the delinquency of a minor" come to mind). Minors are, for better or worse, effectively pets in the US. Children have little to no rights, especially depending on the state and local judiciary. All it takes is one ambitious and heretofore thwarted would-be DA -- especially if their horrible little family drama turns unexpectedly violent or one of the kids runs away - and your life is over.

The major thing that took Satanic Panic nationwide was that many law enforcement bodies took the 'experts' peddling it seriously, and began to link 'satanic activity' to major crimes and conspiracies. Pat Pauling had a regular deal where she would speak to police in various cities about the 'D&D Menace'. She was not laughed out of the room. Doubly important to remember is the connection to pedophilia rings - the vast majority of major cases involving SP were all pedophilia linked and today all it takes is for that word to come up to make your life a living hell.

Just from what you've posted here, you don't really know these kids or their parents. There is every reason to believe the parents could be reasoned with, and have just been made scared for their kids by silly propaganda. OR they could be deeply crazy people who have no trouble throwing their tainted and damned kids out into the cold. It happens. You don't want to be the cause of that happening. Yes, the law says parents must provide a level of care until a kid is 18 years old. However, action on that is spotty, especially depending on the local law and what the parents say. The hundreds of thousands of homeless disowned kids suggest it is very spotty.

I never had to truly deal with this. I was already 17 when D&D came around, and was in college when the first national Satanic Panic silliness hit. I have had people in complete and total seriousness tell me how D&D lures kids in to murder, sex, and devil worship.

We had a couple people in our groups get their books and dice confiscated and destroyed - we chipped in, bought them second-hand replacements, and kept the books at various other houses. They were a lot more mobile than these kids seem to be and, of course, both were something like 17 already. It was a lot easier to move out at 18 back then, so they had little trouble afterwards.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
Update:

TLDR: It turned out to be Child Abuse that was occurring. Also interviewed by Police and the end result is if you EVER even suspect that a child is being abused, YOU REPORT IT. It doesn't matter all the other things, end thing is YOU REPORT IT and if you do NOT you may actually be also able to be CHARGED WITH A CRIME.

So, I did not go to the police. However, as I stated or at least inferred, the language and statements they hurled towards us could be strongly construed as committing a crime in and of itself. It was VERY abusive towards us, much less their children.

So, one of the other players went home and told their parents who in turn called the police. They went in for a check (not sure on what happened exactly, as this was second hand from the player that reported it). They found out that the older kid actually WAS kicked out of the home by that point and then did a wellness check on the younger child. In essence, he was one BIG bruise underneath his clothes, he had been beaten black and blue.

My part comes in at which the police wanted to ask me some questions about what happened. They were surprised that NONE of the adults had reported anything. I don't think they are going to charge me, but they did inform me that in these situations when there are minors and we suspect something like this we are supposed to report things like this, and if we do not, in some cases we can be seen as accessories or other such things.

Anyways, the end game is that I should have reported it, not even asked for advice, simply reported the situation. I report it, I don't need to do anything else. The police at that point can determine the right course of action, whether it is a false alarm, or something to be concerned about.

In this instance, where there was smoke, there really was fire and I actually feel pretty bad for not acting on my initial instinct.

Also, a thought on property now that this has happened, when parents take something from a child, if it is NOT something they themselves have bought, and do it for no good reason, it could fall under the term of abuse. If nothing else, emotional abuse.

With the advise given in this thread which now goes counter to what the cops told me, I wonder how many who had their parents treat them so actually had a form of abuse on them, but as we love our parents and try to frame them in the best light, try to ignore or excuse it rather than seeing it as abuse.

These players NEVER raised any thing against their parents or gave us really that many indications of what was going on prior to the game session which this all went down. Later, (and I haven't seen them since, just the second hand account from the other player of ours and the police questioning of me) we saw this one thing, and though I felt I should take some sort of action, interestingly no one said anything.

What this does tell me is that this was pretty serious, and the ability for us to write it off may show how things in our own lives have dulled our sense of what is abuse or not or the actions we should take. Or maybe it is because sometimes we feel the best action is to NOT get involved.

Anyways, as there were multiple adults there and around the area, I don't think (or at least hope) that any of us are going to be charged as accessories or simply going along with a crime that occurred in front of us. Still rather shaken to a little degree by all of it. However, I've learned my lesson on the correct action I should have done, which was report it and leave the rest up to those who handle these things and have a lot more experience with them on what to do next.
 

FaerieGodfather

Born in the Soul of Misery
I call BS. The likelihood that reality so perfectly vindicates the OP up to and including the bogus cops saying you could be charged with accessory by not reporting suspicion is outside possibility.
Yeah. That is not even a little bit how mandatory reporting laws work, and they sure as hell don't apply to random strangers in gaming stores.

And I'm coming from a place where I want to agree with the OP. I wish that children had the property rights that he is so baselessly asserting, and that imposing arbitrary religious restrictions on children were actually considered child abuse, and that the child protective system actually gave a damn about emotional abuse.

I want to live in the OP's idealistic fantasyland. I want to live in a world where people do not sacrifice the well-being of innocent children on the altar of their desparate need to be right...

oh, wait...
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
With the advise given in this thread which now goes counter to what the cops told me, I wonder how many who had their parents treat them so actually had a form of abuse on them, but as we love our parents and try to frame them in the best light, try to ignore or excuse it rather than seeing it as abuse.
This is kind of insulting. I don't know about the others, but I can definitely say for certain I wasn't abused. The issue was we were going by a person reporting something in a forum. All we had to go on was what you wrote (which is not going to capture a lot of the minor details that help us figure out if this was a serious issue or not). Honestly this is the last time I give any kind of advice like this if it is just going to be turned on me in the end because I can't see the future.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My part comes in at which the police wanted to ask me some questions about what happened. They were surprised that NONE of the adults had reported anything. I don't think they are going to charge me, but they did inform me that in these situations when there are minors and we suspect something like this we are supposed to report things like this, and if we do not, in some cases we can be seen as accessories or other such things.
No, you won't (and cannot) be charged. If anyone who witnessed a parent yelling at a child were required to report it - there would be thousands upon thousands of such reports a day, and the justice system could in now way handle that volume.

There are some people who are "mandatory reporters" - random dude on the street is not one of them. That status is reserved for teachers, doctors, and others who have regular contact with children in their professional life.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I call BS. The likelihood that reality so perfectly vindicates the OP up to and including the bogus cops saying you could be charged with accessory by not reporting suspicion is outside possibility.
Yeah, I call BS too. As I mentioned upthread, I am pretty heavily involved in child advocacy and anti-abuse programs, and my mom has 30 years experience working in the juvenile dept of the county courthouse where she saw this stuff every day.

For one, nothing in the original complaint of the OP hinted at any evidence of physical abuse that the younger child was a solid bruise, so there was nothing to report on that front. Secondly, police don’t charge you, or threaten to charge you if you don’t call them every time a parent yells at a kid and you see it. That’s just factually wrong. Just like taking a kids property they bought is NOT abuse by the federal definition, or any state definition of what constitutes abuse that I’m aware of.

Thirdly, I’m actually quite peeved that the OP would dare infer that anyone disagreeing with them was abused themselves and just suffers from some variation of Stolkholm syndrome. And as someone who IS a huge child advocate, I’m also upset it seems like they would lie about such an important topic that is a very real issue for families out there.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
No, you won't (and cannot) be charged. If anyone who witnessed a parent yelling at a child were required to report it - there would be thousands upon thousands of such reports a day, and the justice system could in now way handle that volume.

There are some people who are "mandatory reporters" - random dude on the street is not one of them. That status is reserved for teachers, doctors, and others who have regular contact with children in their professional life.
Note: That won't stop a cop from telling you what GreyLord reported. They will imply that you are a potential accessory (or outright say it) so they can wrongfoot you and get a statement that will potentially incriminate you or someone else. This is why lawyers are necessary when having anything more than extremely innocuous conversations with the police.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
This is kind of insulting. I don't know about the others, but I can definitely say for certain I wasn't abused. The issue was we were going by a person reporting something in a forum. All we had to go on was what you wrote (which is not going to capture a lot of the minor details that help us figure out if this was a serious issue or not). Honestly this is the last time I give any kind of advice like this if it is just going to be turned on me in the end because I can't see the future.
Well, I WAS abused as a kid a lot by my father. But the idea that I’m defending abuse because of that is insulting. The reality is that it’s the opposite. It’s because I was abused that I took my life in a direction to recognize the signs and become an advocate for children who don’t have voices. And why I made sure the cycles of generations of abuse ended with me, and my own kids have grown up in a loving, supportive family and have never been beaten or degraded like I was. The implication that I defend abuse because I was abused myself is extremely insulting. And ignorant.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:

Folks, back at the start of this thread, I said the following:

"And, 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. "

That still holds. Do try to avoid blanket statements that may insult folks. Also note - if you step in here, you are asking to be involved in a thread with very strong feelings. It is probably not realistic for some of them to not strike close to home. If you feel insulted, please be very thoughtful as to how you handle that.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So, this thread is getting pretty heated, which I can understand given the subject matter.

I think that there I can see a few issues. On the one hand, I think that the OP was clearly bothered by the original encounter, and given the new information shared, genuinely feels bad that he did not act. But based solely on what was in the original post, there was no specific actionable event.

That leads to the observation that there are those occasions when "intuition" (really, the aggregate of small details that you are picking up) causes you to feel that something is off, and this is likely one of those times. Maybe there was a certain harshness in tone, maybe there was something in the voice of the child who returned, maybe there was a glimpse of a bruise that didn't fully register at the conscious level, and so on. Just a feeling that something was off.

On the other hand, I think that people have to be very careful about getting other people involved in the system, especially over what might be good-faith different in parenting. Too often, you see well-intentioned people make reports overt choices that they don't condone; whether it's religion (or lack thereof) or even the appropriate age to walk home or ride a bike in the neighborhood. And interventions by state-support services, however well intentioned, can often have lasting impacts on families, especially those that are less well-off or otherwise less able to navigate bureaucracies.

I write this not because I have an answer (I don't) but simply because this is an issue without a clear solution; in any given circumstance, all you can do is what you believe to be the right thing.

I am glad that the children in this situation received help. :)
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
I'm not one who exactly knows the laws in this specific area (I do know some law, but this is FAR from what I have been involved in), all I can relate is what I was told.

The abuse WAS real (or is I suppose, though I imagine the kids are in custody now [edit: stated this wrong, not custody, but taken by services that protect children and placed them somewhere safer]).

It is kind of surprising how people go into denial in regards to this type of stuff, even when it is right in front of them.

I find it also interesting the type of reaction to the update given.

I am currently considered a mandatory reporter apparently, and yes, apparently we CAN be charged with a crime if we do not report suspicion on such things. It can be a felony in our case.

As I said, I have not been charged yet (and I hope I will not be). It may just be the laws in my , but it is a crime not to report as I have found out. Any volunteer that provides organized activities for children at certain organizations or camps are considered mandatory reporters in my area.

I have not had contact with the two kids since that session, my update was based on the information from the player that reported the incident to their parents (and subsequently the police) and my own interview.

In retrospect I suppose I should have had a lawyer with me, but I didn't even think about doing that. They wanted to talk and I talked with them, it didn't even occur to me to bring a lawyer with me.

PS: After the interview with the police I did a little research to find out for myself if I really could be in trouble. I DID find this as well which does NOT make me feel any better of my actions nor my situation, though I feel that (or hope strongly) I won't have any legal action against me.

I did do some research into the matter, and I found out there are laws as such that I wasn't as aware of.

For example

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.201

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare or that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.
Any person who knows or who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.
Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is the victim of childhood sexual abuse or the victim of a known or suspected juvenile sexual offender shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.
Though to be honest, I'm not sure if what we saw there would be enforceable as a reasonable cause of suspicion or not (though I WAS suspicious which is one reason I brought it up here). However, I'm not sure what will happen next. I tried to do what was right, but that's not always a good defense.

For those who find themselves in the US, if you have questions on the local laws you can find many of them listed here.

Find the laws pertaining to child welfare in the US
 
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billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I am currently considered a mandatory reporter apparently, and yes, apparently we CAN be charged with a crime if we do not report suspicion on such things. It can be a felony in our case.

As I said, I have not been charged yet (and I hope I will not be). It may just be the laws in my , but it is a crime not to report as I have found out. Any volunteer that provides organized activities for children at certain organizations or camps are considered mandatory reporters in my area.

I have not had contact with the two kids since that session, my update was based on the information from the player that reported the incident to their parents (and subsequently the police) and my own interview.

In retrospect I suppose I should have had a lawyer with me, but I didn't even think about doing that. They wanted to talk and I talked with them, it didn't even occur to me to bring a lawyer with me.
I'd definitely ask someone a bit more experienced with the local laws about the mandatory reporter thing. Don't expect to the cops to necessarily be right in what they tell you. They might be misinformed, their training out of date, or they might actually be attempting to pressure you, as I said up above, into saying something incriminating.
 
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