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Fatherhood/What does this tell you about a mother?

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QUESTION: What does this tell you about a mother? She asked a 40-year-old man to baby-sit her 12-year-old daughter. When she returns later that day she sees her 12-year-old daughter sleeping in the same bed with this man, with his arms cuddled around her. The mother does not care because this is not child abuse. She just puts a banked over her daughter she does not get cold. The mother is thankful that this man baby sited her daughter for free. Her daughter told her mother the next morning she that she liked this man a lot because he is very good with children and had a very good time.

ANSWER: Thank you for the additional information.  This is very different and certainly raises "red flags".  In the United States, anyone who suspects child abuse has the legal responsibility to make a report to the police, or to child protective services.  It is investigated depending on the report and any evidence that might be available.  If I had this information of an adult man in a bed cuddling with a 12 year old female child, I would report it.  I might not be as concerned if the child were of a younger age, such as a toddler or young child that may need comforting to get to sleep.  Once asleep, the adult should leave the bed.  A 12 year old is at an age when sexual feelings and curiosity become active and can easily become victims of sexual abuse.  This adult whether man or woman should simply have said "it's time for bed, a hug and peck on the cheek and "good night".  Again this may be considered different in different cultures and families, but in the US, should be considered dangerous.  The man could be accused of sexual contact when it did not occur and was innocent but by lying in the bed and sleeping with the girl, innocent or not, is not appropriate and could lead to many problems for him so for his protection of a false accusation, he should keep his relationship more "fatherly" and not too intimate.  The mother should also be educated about this as obviously, she is ignorant about what is appropriate and actually dangerous for her daughter and her friend.  

So, we don't know if this is sexual abuse unless the child revels that the man has touched her private parts which in that case would certainly be child sexual abuse and needs to be reported.  If the child has not reported this, it does not mean it has not occurred, Like any person, we all like to be loved. Sexual affection also usually feels good, even for a child so the child may not want to admit this has happened or may have been told not to say anything about it by the adult.  The man and mother should know better, they are adults.  The child does not so If this were me, I would report it as it is better to protect the child even if this means that the man could be innocent, his actions have raised suspicion.

I hope that this has provided you with helpful information on a very difficult and complicated situation.

God bless you, your family and friends.

Marcos Torres

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The American mother is a district attorney, and knows that even if she shows a video of this in court a judge in the United States, he would say that this is not legally child abuse.

Answer
Having been a child abuse investigator, I know just how difficult it is to prove child abuse.  In New Mexico, the standard of evidence is the same as for a criminal felony, proof beyond a reasonable doubt and that is very difficult to obtain.  Unfortunately, the legal system is all we have.  In most jurisdictions, there is a separate court that deals with child abuse.  If the mother was a DA, the case would have to be investigated with that in mind so that there was no conflict of interest with protection of the child paramount.

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Marcos Torres

Expertise

I can answer many questions regarding child development, best practices in child care and the fathers role in his children's development.

Experience

10 years as a child protective services investigator, 10 years administrator of a residential nonprofit program for developmentally disabled adults and children, 2 years working with parents facilitating a parenting group of first time parents with my wife using the MELD curriculum in the early 80's. Co-wrote and Administered a fatherhood grant working with young fathers and incarcerated fathers. Ran a fatherhood program in a Texas State jail and was Director of Incarcerated Programs for the National Fatherhood Initiative for a year and a half. I also raised two children now 22 and 26 who have excelled academically which I believe is from our learning the best practices in child rearing from the start.

Education/Credentials
BA in Social work in 1980 from New Mexico State University

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