I mentioned in passing in a previous post about our encounter with Child Protection Services in Australia. As expected, we received many concerned questions from friends and family wondering what on earth happened to us during that very eventful weekend.
So to calm all your fears and worries, here is the story...
A week earlier, hubs had brought Nathan to see a doctor to check on a very bad bruise on his cheek. Like all active boys, Nathan was always getting bumps and bruises from running and jumping about everywhere.
This bruise first came about a couple of months ago when he was jumping on the couch, fell and knocked his cheek against our coffee table. But apart from some initial tears and fussing, he was not bothered by the bruise at all.
|Nathan's super bad bruise on his right cheek|
A few weeks went by and we started to notice a lump developing under the bruise on his cheek. So we finally we decided to get it checked out by a doctor. The doctor didn't really seem overly concerned and said it was probably just a hematoma, but he referred us to get an x-ray so he could have a closer look at what was going on under there.
We called the radiology clinic to book an appointment, but we were not able to secure one until a week later.
Now comes the critical point that started the ball rolling...
During the week after seeing the doctor before the radiology appointment, Nathan unfortunately had another bad fall while he was in daycare on Thursday. He was running, tripped and fell forward, flat on his face. The damage: Two more big bruises on his face, on his forehead and on his other cheek, and couple of small cuts on his nose and upper lip.
The fresh new bruises combined with his existing bruise made Nathan's face looked really bashed up. However the bruises themselves were not life-threatening and Nathan was bouncing around again almost immediately.
Anyway, the very next day happened to be the day of Nathan's radiology appointment, so hubby took him to get his x-ray done as planned. However I think the sight of Nathan's 'bashed up' face must have shocked the radiologist and he immediately referred the report back to the doctor. So the same day, hubs brought Nathan back to the doctor to review the results of the x-ray.
Here's when things started to get 'exciting'...
The doctor told hubs that as part of the child protection policy in Australia, any reports of multiple injuries made by any health care worker must be flagged to the Child Protection Unit in Princess Margaret Hospital.
The doctor assured hubs that it is just a procedural thing and there is nothing to worry about as out of a hundred reports, probably only two are genuine cases of child abuse. However it is simply a mandatory and legal requirement for him to flag the multiple injuries on Nathan's face in his report.
The response to this little flag was amazingly swift...
Within an hour, hubby and I received separate phone calls from the Child Protection Unit. They basically asked the same set of questions, asking us individually to describe how each of the injuries on Nathan's face occurred. They then asked for the contact number of our daycare to cross-check the information.
They must have picked up the phone almost straightaway to call Nathan's daycare. I didn't get a chance to call her in advance to explain the situation to our daycare lady. So you can imagine her shock and fear to receive this call asking her all these incriminating questions.
After speaking with our daycare, they called me back again and told me that we needed to bring Nathan down to the hospital immediately to get his bruises checked out by another doctor.
My phone was ringing non-stop getting these calls all afternoon from the Child Protection Unit, and then from our daycare lady worriedly asking what was going on, and also from hubby (he was out running errands) to find out what was happening on my side.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be also the day I was coming down with mastitis. Because I was so busy handling these calls and enquiries, I didn't really pause to realise how sick I was feeling. Soon, my body began crashing in a downward spiral with the pain and symptoms of the infection.
Within a short time, I was so sick that I was not able to get out of bed. I told hubs that it would be impossible for me to manage alone while he was at the hospital with Nathan. And knowing hospitals, I suspected that there would be a long queue before they would finally be seen by a doctor to verify the causes of Nathan's bruises.
So we blew the hospital appointment and hubby stayed at home to look after everyone. That was one really tough weekend. It rounded off with hubs falling sick himself toward the end.
Anyway, continuing on with the main story...
On Monday, we received a follow up call from the Child Protection Unit. Man, these guys are persistent. Hubs told them about my mastitis and why we were not able to come into the hospital over the weekend. They seemed to understand and so we booked another appointment to go in to see a doctor.
So finally, hubs was able to bring Nathan to Princess Margaret Hospital. They really take each case seriously. There were three workers present during the hour-long session: Two doctors and one case worker. But after seeing the bruises, it was definitely apparent that there was nothing to fuss about. The bruises were clearly simply a result of ordinary accidents. Still, they went through the whole drill of asking hubs questions about each bruise, drawing some blood from Nathan for testing, checking his whole body for other injuries.
The whole adventure kind of ends in a somewhat anti-climax. Because after all, there really was nothing to fuss about.
Apparently, it is not really uncommon for a child to be flagged under Child Protection Services like this. Hubby's boss said he went through several cases like this with his own kids. They even flagged an insect bite as a potential cigarette butt mark.
But perhaps it is kind of reassuring to know that child protection is taken so seriously in Australia. Although we know ourselves as parents, the system and the workers in the system can't be expected to know that. Hence the need to follow all the procedures and flags until they can know for sure.
Something to keep in mind if you ever happen to take your kid to the doctor to check out a bruise.