From my son's mouth: How do we handle the disclosure?

by PJH
(Rochester, New York, USA)

Today my son, 4, was riding in the back seat of the car with me, mouthing the words to a Bon Jovi song and stopped all of a sudden. He looked at me with a serious face. He asked me if it was OK if he used "potty talk." The last time he had asked me for permission to use potty talk he said that he thought something was stupid. So in order to keep an open dialog I agreed to hear him out. What he said to me was very disturbing. I'll outline the conversation below. Before you read, "Jack" is a boy in my son's Pre-K class:

Son: When Jack was in the shower he blew his dad's pickle.

Me: What did you just say (turning down the radio and giving him 100% of my attention)?

Son: He blew in the hole on his dad's pickle.

Me: With what?

Son: With his mouth.

**We went back and forth a few more times, as I was in shock. Jack's mom and dad are going through a divorce so I don't know what to make of it. The stick of the whole situation is that Jack's mom is a teacher at the school. Jack's dad has cousins, aunts, and I believe even his mother is an employee at the school. If we say something, even if it proves to be untrue, we're gone! That is not really my concern because if it is true, who cares what happens to our enrolment at a school if it saves a 4-year-old boy from this type of behavior.

What would you say would be the most tactful way to approach this? To file a report with CPS? To talk to Jack's mother? She could turn on us for the accusation or she may completely expose her husband without someone looking into it first.

My wife and I are torn! I would want to know! My wife is a Licensed Social Worker and knows that by law she has to inform someone. Please give us some advice!! We are friends with the mother as well and know that she needs to know. We would like to remain anonymous if at all possible.

Note from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "From my son's mouth: How do we handle with the disclosure?" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Comments for From my son's mouth: How do we handle the disclosure?

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Jul 03, 2008
Disclose to CPS...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

While I understand that as her friend, you want to inform "Jack's" mother, DON'T. You don't know what you don't know. Although a disclosure of this type on the surface implicates Jack's father, that may or may not be the case. By approaching EITHER parent, you could jeopardize an investigation. Furthermore, since there is a divorce in the works, there are custodial factors that come into play, and could also be put at risk. You do not want to get involved in such issues. Leave it to the professionals.

The protocol to follow is to report what your son said to you to Child Protective Services. They will ask you to relay the details of your conversation with your son. Do not further question your son; take your queue from the intake worker you speak with. If you're unsure how to proceed with your son after you make the report, ask the intake worker for some guidance.

As for reporting anonymously, according to the information I have retrieved regarding the laws around reports of child abuse in the State of New York, the report must include the name and contact information of the person doing the reporting (that would be you), however, that information shall not be disclosed.

Before closing, I must say that I am particularly impressed with the way you communicate with your son. Permission to "potty talk"...wonderful!

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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