My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

2010 Census workers can’t report child abuse…

NBC Miami shares the following:

The government’s census workers are out and about in South Florida neighborhoods and beyond, going door to door and being invited into homes, but a little-known law is being criticized by local child advocates.

Under the law, census workers can’t say anything about or report sex abuse, child abuse, or any type of abuse of kids they may get a whiff of while visiting a home.

In fact, Federal law not only prohibits them from speaking out, but anyone who does could get a $5,000 fine and five years in jail if they do.

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

Census Workers Can't Report Child  Abuse

WATCH

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

In Florida, teachers, doctors, nurses, the clergy, and law enforcement officers must report child abuse when they see it.

Lissette Labrousse, attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, said there’s a reason for the law.

“The Federal law is designed to have people come forward and speak to census workers without fear,” said Labrousse. “Under the law it is required that the census worker keep everything confidential, they cannot release any information to any government agency.”

The census told NBCMiami that it’s very unlikely one of its workers would run across abuse, but if they did the law stops them from reporting it.

But child advocates claim the law hurts their efforts to get the public to come forward anytime children are being abused.

Trudy Novicki, Executive Director at Miami‘s Kristi House, which provides counseling for about 750 abused kids each year, said she called the Census Bureau when she was told of the law.

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28 Responses to “2010 Census workers can’t report child abuse…”

  1. Dairyland CL Says:

    This applies to any crime. We in Wisconsin have been told that any child abuse, violence, theft or anything else gets ignored. We ae not to even call 911 if we look through the window and see someone lying on the floor and not moving no matter how hard we knock. I would prefer to follow my conscience on this matter, and take a firing for it, but it apparently is a law, not just policy. Whatever someone decides in this situation will be something they have to live with.

  2. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Good points Dairyland!

  3. END THE CENSUS Says:

    This is outrageous. Make an anonymous call, send an anonymous letter, ANYTHING!!!!! Saving children from abuse is just slightly more important than the census bureau’s pretense at caring about citizens’ “privacy”.

    And for pete’s sake not even to call 911 when you witness somebody lying there possibly dying?!
    If I see something like that or if I know or even suspect children are being abused, I will damn well make sure child protective services or 811 or the police or somebody, knows about it. How hard is it to make an anonymous phone call? This is just insane and I can think of few things more evil than knowing a child is being abused and not even TRYING to do something about it.

    The census bureau and everybody who goes along with that regulation is evil and guilty. SHAME ON YOU ALL.

  4. sg Says:

    It’s always good to see TeeVee “journalists” whipping up the general level of paranoia. I mean, they can’t spend **all** their time covering celebrities.

    Look, your average enumerator is going to spend, what, maybe 15 minutes at the very most asking people survey questions. Do you honestly believe that **anyone** can make an informed assessment about child-rearing in such an encounter? Are you expecting child abusers to start pummeling kids while they’re answering the enumerato’s questions?!?! Further, do you think the enumerators’ job would magically become easier once word got out that they were some kind of non-deputized government informers?

    But most of all: Do you think life in America will be somehow better with half a million little Stalinist informers roaming from door to door? Why stop there? Let’s encourage **everybody**, not just Census workers, to become good little Stalinist informers. Let’s give cash bonuses to everybody who informs on his neighbor! Because of course only wrong-doers will be informed on — **never** us. And when the last of **them** is locked up, we’ll be “safe”.

    Oh yeah, I know: “Think of the children!” Second only to flag-waving as a favorite tactic of those who want to shut down thought and give in to fear and hysteria.

  5. END THE CENSUS Says:

    If you were a victim of child abuse, you would understand. Obviously you do NOT understand.

    And if you were a foster parent or foster grandparent of children who have suffered abuse and thankfully rescued from that abuse by people who DID “think of the children” then maybe you would understand.

    You are speaking out of ignorance and it’s chilling to see your lack of concern for abused children.

  6. END THE CENSUS Says:

    The people who reported the abuse and neglect of children who were rescued and taken into foster care are not “Stalinists” they’re people who CARE. Unlike YOU, obviously.

  7. Bobby J Says:

    Just because federal law says they can’t report it doesn’t mean they can’t be arrested and charged under state law for not reporting it. These “must report” laws are state laws that aren’t necessarily automatically trumped by federal law. Whatever defense they have regarding federal law would have to be vetted in state court and may or may not be valid. It would then end up in federal court and would probably be appealed to the Supreme Court.

  8. CLA Dave Says:

    I’m sure the law varies from state to state, but…

    2004 Texas Penal Code
    TITLE 8. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
    CHAPTER 38. OBSTRUCTING GOVERNMENTAL OPERATION
    Sec. 38.171. Failure to Report Felony.
    (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
    (1) observes the commission of a felony under circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that an offense had been committed in which serious bodily injury or death may have resulted; and
    (2) fails to immediately report the commission of the offense to a peace officer or law enforcement agency under circumstances in which:
    (A) a reasonable person would believe that the commission of the offense had not been reported; and
    (B) the person could immediately report the commission of the offense without placing himself or herself in danger of suffering serious bodily injury or death.
    (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
    Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1009, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

  9. LCO-AM Says:

    We have had people quit when they were told they can not report crimes or illegal activity.

    They never make it though the training…….

  10. LCO-AM Says:

    Oh, it is not just getting fired – it is the potential for 5 years in prison and that $250,000.00 fine!

  11. FactChecker Says:

    State laws don’t apply when there is a specific federal law like Title 13 preventing the disclosure.

    Article 6, United States Constitution….

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby

  12. old amfo Says:

    I have a lot of respect for people that would rather , walk off the job , then do the wrong thing. If I saw real child abuse on the job I would tell my chain of command , out of respect , and then inform the authorities. I would more then likely do the same with meth labs. The Census has a really tough job making sure that peoples privacy is respected and I endorse that , but some things are just WRONG. The Census only understands three things….. bad publicity because they have to work harder to overcome it ……….people quitting because of the effort it thats hire and retrain replacements …….and CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATIONS because these seem to bring the only real oversight to this program. I believe that any Congressional Investigation would always back up the person doing the rigth thing. No one goes to jail for not sending in their questioneer and no one goes to jail for protecting a child. In theory you could just have the police go to the Housing Unit because the resident did not return their Census form…a Federal offense.

  13. counter intuitive Says:

    I would take myself off duty (removing name tag, car sign, etc. later adjusting my payroll sheet accordingly) and make the report to the appropriate agency/ies as a private citizen. It can be an anonymous report. The object is to stop the wrong doing and help the victim.

    Never be afraid of doing the right thing.

  14. mandy_Reeves Says:

    what if we suspect someone is harboring illegals? what can we do in that situation?

  15. old amfo Says:

    Not a life or death issue…I would move on….count them then move on

  16. Anonymous Says:

    In the best interest of the child: anonymous tip to the National Child Abuse Hotline.

  17. PM Says:

    Funny how everyones rallies around child abuse, and how the catchy story in press was about just that…

    Dairyland CL has the right attitude. My question of the FOS was (in our high crime area, most calls aren’t about someone feeding their kid yucky cereal or whatever is starting to constitute abuse to the court, sorry I’m so outta touch where we have 242, 261 or 211 every 10 minutes; maybe it’s different in suburbia) “What if we walk by a mugging, some woman being assaulted, or a bunch of condom wrappers outside an Asian massage joint (slave trade is notable around here)?”

    “We’re not supposed to see it.”

    This is ostensibly to maintain confidentiality of those with whom we interact on duty— so it will probably just happen to occur while I’m on my break, and (on break at the moment, of course) I have time to call 911 or 800-CALL-FBI, and that’s that.

  18. old amfo Says:

    Everyone has a tolerence of what really wrong and evil and what you can turn your head at. Violent crime I would report , a pot plant in the living room I turn my head at . Meth lab I report , kids cutting school I ignore.

  19. sg Says:

    “If you were a victim of child abuse, you would understand. Obviously you do NOT understand…

    You are speaking out of ignorance and it’s chilling to see your lack of concern for abused children.”

    Ah. By your logic, if I haven’t experienced something directly, I’m **incapable** of “understanding” it. You **do** see the holes in that, don’t you? Maybe not….

    Look, I’m pretty sure that I understand your point way better than you do mine. In fact you seem to have skipped the attempt to understand altogether, and jumped straight to demonization.

    Again, slowly: Confidentiality is essential to enumerators’ tasks. In any case, the circumstances of their work makes it extremely unlikely that they can make any informed assessment of child abuse. Finally, as other comments have implied — why stop there? Why not have enumerators drop a dime on people growing cannabis? Or people who might be “illegals” or “terrorists”? Once it’s assumed that enumerators really are police agents, what kind of cooperation do you think they’ll get?

  20. MHTrixx Says:

    “Saving children from abuse is just slightly more important than the census bureau’s pretense at caring about citizens’ “privacy”

    “The census bureau and everybody who goes along with that regulation is evil and guilty. SHAME ON YOU ALL”

    You should really refrain from posting on reputable blogs if this is the only way you know how to speak to your peers. The privacy of census data is inherent to the process itself and is in no way a pretense.

    Furthermore, the existence of this policy can not stop a census worker from breaking the rules and reporting an incident if he or she feels morally obligated to do so (that is, in the infinitesimal chance that he or she does witness some form of abuse while on the job). Perhaps you should wait until someone does witness abuse, does report it, and does actually get fined to start spewing incendiary remarks.

    As it stands, the policy exists and privacy (which is one of the cornerstones of the census) is protected. In the meantime you will have to deal with the fact that the federal government does not exist to cater to your personal convictions about what is more important than what, and the fact that laws which are 99.9999% good can still produce an undesirable result .0001% of the time.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Where’s your humanity? Out in the field, kind people ask me if I like some bottled water, coffee or tea.

  22. Dairyland CL Says:

    This just in from Fox website:

    Census Worker Visits Alabama Home, Finds Dead Body

    Associated Press

    A census worker looking for people to enumerate at a Geneva County home turned up a dead body instead.
    print email share recommend (0)
    GENEVA, Ala. — A census worker looking for people to enumerate at a Geneva County home turned up a dead body instead.

    Geneva County Coroner Max Motley says the worker making his rounds of home visits detected a foul odor.

    Motley said the census worker notified neighbors, who called authorities. Inside, the body of 60-year-old Charles Edward Harper was discovered. Geneva County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony

    Helms says it appears Harper had been dead for quite some time.

    Helms says the death is still under investigation, but foul play is not suspected. Motley says no cause of death has been determined yet, but it is believed Harper died of natural causes.

  23. counter intuitive Says:

    If it is determined that Mr. Harper died on or before Census Day, would the HU be listed as V or O?

  24. Jax Enumerator Says:

    “If it is determined that Mr. Harper died on or before Census Day, would the HU be listed as V or O?”

    If he died before April 1, it would be V. If he died on April 1, I don’t know how it would be listed. Anyone have any idea?

  25. Anonymous Says:

    I would list his home as O – occupied. Then, I would explain in the Notes section of the EQ what I found. Then, I would write a very detailed Info-Com. Tell all details to my CL when I turn in my D308, Info-Com, etc. for that day. This is a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE.

  26. LCO-AM Says:

    You nailed it – if something illegal is seen, the procedure would be to use the D-225 Info-Com.

  27. LCO-AM Says:

    Anonymous Says:

    May 16th, 2010 at 6:55 pm
    I would list his home as O – occupied. Then, I would explain in the Notes section of the EQ what I found. Then, I would write a very detailed Info-Com. Tell all details to my CL when I turn in my D308, Info-Com, etc. for that day. This is a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE
    ————————————————————————-
    Would you use yourself or one of the neighbors as the proxy?

  28. California FOS Says:

    Well you would probably need to interview one of the neighbors to determine whether anyone else live(d) in that residence on April 1. So the neighbor would be the proxy.

    Our LCO is returning EQs to us when enumerators use themselves as proxies for vacant addresses, etc. But if it’s the enumerator’s own block, sometimes the enumerator really is the best proxy. I tell them to use their spouse or somebody they live with as the proxy in these cases. So far, I haven’t had any single enumerators who live alone ask me what they should do.