“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.”
— Stephen W. Comiskey
It is one of the first rules that one needs to know when self advocating a customer service issue.
Hang up, call again.
It means that you don’t need to just accept the answer you were given. You can try again and see if you have better luck with the next representative.
I remember my first HUCA. My laptop stopped working two weeks after its warranty expired. I called customer support and the agent condescendingly reminded me that it was a one year warranty and not a one year and two week warranty.
So I waited a bit and called back. The new agent checked with his supervisor and they decided they would still honor the warranty. Within two weeks I had a repaired and working laptop back in my possession at no cost.
Sometimes all it takes is to try again.
Sometimes speaking with one person is not sufficient. Sometimes a “victory” only happens after the second or third call.
There are so many stories of abuse where witnesses and people with suspicions forget that speaking with one person is not sufficient.
These people don’t “try again”.
Rather than a HUCA mentality, they employ a “pass the buck” (e.g. I told someone so I did what I was supposed to do) method.
Let me use the famous case of Jerry Sandusky to illustrate this point. (Taken from the case timeline on cnn.com)
1. 2000 - James Calhoun, a janitor at Penn State, tells his supervisor and another janitor that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the Lasch Building showers.
2. March 2, 2002 - Graduate Assistant Mike McQueary tells Coach Joe Paterno that on March 1, 2002, he witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the Lasch Building showers.
3. March 3, 2002 - Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley.
In all of the above cases, the person with the information reports it ONLY to a higher up. None of these three ever go to the police.
It would take until 2009 for an investigation to begin, leading to an arrest in 2011.
If only the janitor kept telling people until one of them took appropriate action.
If only he just went to the police.
If only he went back to the police a second time if he felt the police were not following through after his initial visit.
If only Mike McQueary went straight to the police.
If he only spoke with activists and organizations who work in the area of child sexual abuse.
Instead this one told their supervisor and this one told their boss…
It ends up getting to a point where even if someone EVENTUALLY goes to the police, they have 5th or 6th hand testimony, which doesn’t assist them in opening a case.
The goal with reporting abuse should never be “do just enough to cover your own skin”, it should be “do what you can to protect ALL CHILDREN”.
In cases where police can intervene, the police should be brought in to intervene.
In cases where you are a third party and you see that there are red flags/suspicious behavior, but nothing yet illegal, let people know that there are red flags and previous suspicious behavior.
People as in plural.
People as in many.
Don’t just play hot potato with your information. Never give it to someone else and run away.
Make sure you are getting the desired outcome. Otherwise, hang up, call again.
One should never do more for a laptop than they do to protect children.
Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.
You can email Yisroel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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