By Marc Black
If you, a caregiver, are not fully executing the requirements of your loved ones’ meal plan (or holding firm with other boundaries) because you fear your child with an eating disorder (ED) may contact a mandated reporter with maltreatment claims, then I’d like to engage you with a brief “Knock and Talk.”
I am urging you to not be intimidated by your child’s ED threatening maltreatment claims (or other claims) against you to mandated reporters…or those mandated reporters then notifying law enforcement or child protective services.
That’s a pretty bold statement for me to make. I make it authoritatively because I’m a retired law enforcement detective who investigated cases of child exploitation, and I’m the dad of a daughter diagnosed at 14 years of age during the Covid pandemic with Anorexia Nervosa
My bottom line: execute the meal plan and have your child meet the expectations of their nutrition prescription. As long as you, the parent or family member caregiver, are proceeding legally and not causing harm, you do not have reason to fear law enforcement or child protective services involvement, and it is your goal to challenge the ED, foster supportive care, and en
Have one or more of your providers briefly describ
This letter is also a good tool if your child requires emergency room care or inpatient care. It provides ER staff with a statement from the medical provider along with their contact information.
Child Protective Services’ (CPS) job is to ensure all children at your residence are safe and not maltreated. An investigative case is opened when a mandated reporter or an individual makes a report of a child potentially (or allegedly) being maltreated. In the United States, CPS has investigative protocols determined by the state child welfare office. A case worker should inform you of the type of complaint, the date it was made, and how an investigation will proceed. The case worker may ask to see your ED child, any siblings, the children’s rooms, and may want to speak with any or all of them. This is to ensure the well-being of your child(ren).
In most U.S. states you are under no obligation to allow CPS to enter your residence or speak with your children, and you can retain an attorney for legal assistance. However, keep in mind CPS has a job to do, so if the case worker is denied access to your children in your home, they may seek contact with them at your children’s school (or other locations) to confirm the child’s well-being.
Now let’s take our “Knock and Talk” in another direction. What happens if you call 911 (or emergency services) and need the assistance of law enforcement at your home due to a volatile/distressing situation involving your ED child? Here are some steps to follow:
Please understand once police arrive,
Also understand police officers are not social workers. Their main concern is for their own safety, their partner’s safety, your family’s safety, and your ED loved one’s safety. If officers feel your child is acting in an unsafe manner, they will restrain them for the safety of everyone in the environment. This is non-negotiable.
You will find that many law enforcement and child protective services professionals have very little knowledge of Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Prepare yourself to educate these professionals on eating disorders. When you present yourself as a subject matter expert to these professionals, you will gain their confidence and support.
Stay focused on your mission: the safety of your child. Do not become distracted and intimidated by the ED. Deep down, in your heart, you know (and your ED child knows) everything you are doing is to ensure their safety and save their life.
Thank you for shining this light so that parents can feel confident in these often times, highly emotional situations!
Great post, thank you!
This is a much needed discussion and will be a valuable resource. Thank you
This is excellent information. Very helpful and provides a calming response guide for all family members. Thank you Marc.
Thank you for this honest and helpful post. It is validating to know that our experiences with this disease – which did led to interactions with such authorities twice – is not uncommon. In one case, I had to call the police (because my daughter ran away). And in the other, she called for help. In the US, we now have “988” for suicide prevention and other mental health needs – and thankfully that is the number she called. A crisis unit came to our home. While the entire reason for the emergency visit was traumatic, the response team was professional, courteous, and helpful. We did not have the document you suggest, but that could have been a very helpful item to have available. Even if you don’t have that document, staying calm (as much as possible) and communicating with the authorities about the diagnosis and treatment plan, helps to support discussions and decisions by the authorities. Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise.