Answer to a Question

Someone posed the following question in a comment:

Where does your responsibilty end with children that are disclosing abusive situtions on your site?

I know of other sites where they have to report, via ISP numbers or the information is given to Cyber Angels or Net Detective or one of those such organisations.

I am wondering are you under any kind of moral or ethical obligation to report alleged abuse? There are minors writing here that are still in these situtions.

I realise of course there is no obligation and you cant be held accountable or anything for not reporting suspcions as we all could be held repsonsible because we read it and do nothing. I want to know your personal view on it.

Abuse disclosed to teachers or doctors if not reported they can be charged with neglect in some countries.

Interested in how it works over the internet.

From our perspective, this is the kind of approach we take:

We don’t read everyone’s diary because it’s just impractical. We are not set up to deal with all the laws in all countries either (we’re only a couple of guys doing this :) ) and neither are we (more specifically) set up to deal with emotional and psychological problems.

We have received a couple of mails in the past from some people that misunderstood what our abuse email address was about and as much as it pains us there is nothing that we can do to help other than offer an ear and strongly recommend they talk to someone like a Doctor and get it out into the open immediately. We’ll always be happy to lend an ear to anyone that wants it, whether that’s by IRC, AIM, Email, whatever – with the caveat that we’re just people on the Internet, we’re not qualified or even trained in that kind of psychological support.

I also believe that it isn’t our place to intervene – if Children (or anybody, abused wives are another good example) feel that by writing in this place that they could cause problems – it is often felt by some victims that they don’t want to cause problems for the abuser incase they receive worse abuse – then these people will not open up at all. Atleast by being able to freely write and communicate with others they can pull from the strength of the people that communicate to them (childish idiotic funsters aside). I personally am more of the opinion that we should let the people that are geographically local to the victim help them – with all the anonymity of the Internet there is only so much that you can do – instead, we should spend our time focusing on getting that victim to understand their situation, understand they are not alone and understand and fight to get themselves out of their situation.

This is one of the reasons we have tried to encourage ‘Kids of Courage’, get it a bit more into the lime light so that children can find it and immediately they find out that they are not alone.

As with just about any aspect of this website, if anybody has suggestions for making this site a better, safer place for everybody then we’re always interested to hear them. We have approached the ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) to find out how we can go about rating a site like Dear Diary (they normally only appear to deal with content-based sites where the webmasters specifically control the content). We also have a number of other measures coming in with 3.0 to protect people from seeing things they would rather not see.

I hope that’s answered your question!