Making a report of suspected child abuse is
difficult. There are always nagging doubts about how the parents will react, what
the outcome will be, and whether or not the report will put the child at greater risk.
The best way to minimize the difficulty of
reporting is to be fully prepared for the experience and to understand the reporting
requirements and the process that is triggered by making a report.
Keep in mind, that Child Protective Services
only investigates allegations of child abuse or neglect perpetrated or allowed by the
child's parent, caretaker or guardian. Allegations involving perpetrators other than
the parents, caretakers, or guardians are referred to law enforcement for investigation.
If you are a mandated reporter, you are
required to report. If you suspect abuse, you are responsible for reporting it.
What is the standard for reporting
"Reasonable suspicion" is the
standard for reporting child abuse and neglect. This means that, based on your
training and experience, you have reason to suspect that a child is being abused or
neglected. Ask yourself, "do I have serious concern for the child's safety and
Use the following information as a guideline
for recognizing indicators of abuse and neglect:
Physical Abuse: Any
act which results in non-accidental injury.
- Head Injuries
treatment or maltreatment of a child by parents or caregiver under circumstances
indicating harm or threatening harm to the child's health or welfare.
Severe Neglect: Failure
of parent or caregiver to protect a child from severe malnutrition or a medically
diagnosed failure to thrive. Failure to provide adequate food, clothing or medical
- Child appears malnourished
- Child often dirty or inadequately dressed for weather
- Home conditions are unsafe or unsanitary
- Child often sleepy or hungry
- Evidence of poor supervision
- Lacking medical and dental care
Sexual Abuse: Any
activity between an adult, or older child, and a child which results in sexual arousal or
satisfaction of the adult or older child.
- Age inappropriate sexual behavior
- Eating disorders
- Injury/trauma unusual for age
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Stained/soiled/bloody underclothing
- Compulsive masturbation
- Drastic behavior changes
- Sleeping disorders
Emotional Abuse: Emotional
maltreatment consists of emotional abuse and deprivation or neglect.
- Constant family discord
- Excessive verbal assaults
- Parent/caregiver does not offer experiences providing feelings
of being loved, wanted, secure, and worthy
- Constant negative moods
- Double message communication
Who Are Mandated Reporters?
- Animal control officers
- Child protective services personnel
- District attorney investigators and inspectors
- Film processors
- Foster parents
- Head Start teachers
- Humane society employees
- Marriage/family/child counselors
- Public health service employees
- Recreational program staff
- School district police and security officers
- Youth center employees
- Child care providers
- Child visitation monitors
- Emergency room personnel
- Family support officers
- Group home personnel
- Health practitioners
- Licensing workers
- Parole officers
- Probation officers
- Pupil personnel public and private schools
- Residential care facilities
- Social workers
- Teacher aides/assistants/administrators
- Volunteers are not mandated reporters
How to Make a Report
Many schools and agencies have developed special
procedures for reporting suspected child abuse. Whatever your organization's
internal procedure, suspected child abuse must be reported immediately or as soon as
possible by calling the Child Protective Services 24-hour hotline - 468-1333, or local law
This must be followed by a written report within
36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident (Suspected Child Abuse
Report SS 8572) and submitted to the same agency.
Other things to know
- Medical personnel are required by law to complete, even
without the consent of the child's parent or caretaker, Department of Justice Form 900
"Medical Report - Suspected Child Abuse.
- If the suspected abuse is sexual, medical personnel who
conduct the examination must also complete either Office of Criminal Justice Planning Form
925 "Medical Report" or the OCJP Form 923.
- As a mandated reporter you are responsible for reporting, not
investigating suspected abuse.
- Mandated reporters are guilty of a misdemeanor and may be
subject to civil damage suits it they fail to report.
- The mandated reporter must give his or her name when reporting
known or suspected child abuse to a child protective agency. The reporter's name is
confidential, however, it may be disclosed only in very limited situations, as provided by
- When making a report it is necessary to provide to the
reporting party the name of the child, the present location of the child, the nature and
extent of the injury, and any other information that led to the report being made.
Where to Make a Report
Crime in progress:
Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately or call 9-1-1.
All other incidents:
Contact Child Protective Services or the law enforcement agency in your
CPS Hotline (209) 468-1333
If You Suspect, Protect!
If your organization or
business would like a presentation regarding this subject, please call:
Dale Fritchen at 468-1544.
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