Professional Responsibility vs Family Needs

Posted
by dkn86, BSN, RN (New) New

Specializes in Psychiatric and Behavioral Health.

I have a conundrum.  I am recently engaged and love my fiancé’s family (most of them).  However, I became aware of some concerning information.  One of her cousins uses drugs and likes to drink, but she’s functioning so I stay out of it.  I found out that when her kids (teenage and young adult) are with her and her mother (the kids grandma), they share and encourage the kids to use drugs with them.  Whatever they are doing, the kids are offered, and they do use with them.  While my fiancé is less concerned about marijuana, she is equally concerned as I that other drugs could lead to very serious adverse health and legal problems for the kids.  As a mandatory reporter, should I report this soon-to-be in law and her mom for suspected child endangerment, or should I leave it be out of consideration for my partner and maintaining family dynamics?  Struggling with this…

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in New NP Hospitalist, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 2,020 Posts

Oh, that is a struggle I'm sure, I think that no matter what you and your fiance need to be in complete agreement with your course of action because there is potential fall out either way. Certainly if you do report this behavior there is likely to be a rift created in your fiance's family. I do understand that we are mandated reporters and there's a large part of me that says you should have the best interests of the teenager at heart and do what's right for them, which is to report this. However, the reality of our social services system today is that they are so overwhelmed that even if you do report this behavior, it's unlikely to lead to a lasting positive change for the children, but it will definitely put you on the outs with some family members. 

Do you ever interact personally with the children involved? Are you ever able to have a conversation about substance abuse and what they have experienced in their life? Not knowing the exact ages you're talking about, if the child is old enough, and unfortunately, has developed substance abuse issues, there is also the potential that you could report the situation and then the child to lie to protect that adult and themselves from the potential consequences. But if they have any concerns, you could potential get them in touch with appropriate resources. 

Best of luck, that's tough situation for sure. 

Edited by JBMmom

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 30 years experience. 2,693 Posts

Laws differ from state to state, but in general you're not mandated when you're outside of your professional role. Also, I wouldn't think it applied to the child who was a 'young adult'.

dkn86, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric and Behavioral Health. 6 Posts

56 minutes ago, JBMmom said:

Oh, that is a struggle I'm sure, I think that no matter what you and your fiance need to be in complete agreement with your course of action because there is potential fall out either way. Certainly if you do report this behavior there is likely to be a rift created in your fiance's family. I do understand that we are mandated reporters and there's a large part of me that says you should have the best interests of the teenager at heart and do what's right for them, which is to report this. However, the reality of our social services system today is that they are so overwhelmed that even if you do report this behavior, it's unlikely to lead to a lasting positive change for the children, but it will definitely put you on the outs with some family members. 

Do you ever interact personally with the children involved? Are you ever able to have a conversation about substance abuse and what they have experienced in their life? Not knowing the exact ages you're talking about, if the child is old enough, and unfortunately, has developed substance abuse issues, there is also the potential that you could report the situation and then the child to lie to protect that adult and themselves from the potential consequences. But if they have any concerns, you could potential get them in touch with appropriate resources. 

Best of luck, that's tough situation for sure. 

That’s good advice, of course I should talk to them first and “assess the patient”!

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,658 Posts

There are professionals out there who confidentially deal with these sorts of matters. These professionals can give take information objectively give advice and guidance, or take matters into their own hands.

For example, I had a workout chum who worked for DCFS and I informed him of the a situation while we soaked in the hot tub.

One cannot be more open than that in a professional-like setting.

Basically, my chum took down some information and said he would check to out and let me know the outcome. This occurred about 35 years ago and that's about all I remember of that situation, aside the case was investigated and dealt with.

I'm relatively sure there are other similar situations, but that's the only one that comes to mind at this time, but my advice is to allow professionals to deal with it.

Good luck!

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,102 Posts

If adults are giving children drugs, theres a problem. My take on this, is that if you know about it, you report it. 

As an aside, this harsh advice comes from the fact that we have custody of a teen grandchild who was given drugs/ETOH and was removed from parental custody.

 

John2018

Specializes in Occupational Health Nursing. Has 4 years experience. 102 Posts

When they are stirring those minors to use of drugs..that is very concerning and I agree with some comments here..you need to report that. 

RatherBHiking, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Oncology, OB, School Nurse. Has 30 years experience. 1 Article; 530 Posts

You can report it anonymously and tell no one if you want. Just by a social worker showing up at their house (even if nothing is proven or done) will make the parent realize someone is watching them and may make them behave better. 

Edited by RatherBHiking