Child Abuse and Reporting

Whether you are a mandated reporter of child abuse/neglect or not, there remains a responsibility to be on guard for the safety of our children. For those who are in professions that require reporting, it is clear to them when to report and the procedures to do so. What about the rest? The rest who may not be mandatory reporters but still have a moral obligation? I thought it would be helpful to see what the professional reads and perhaps after reading, you can see how fitting it is for the “rest” to comply as well – And…have no worries about being sued for doing so.

Screening for Child Abuse or Neglect

When family violence comes to the attention of a professional, it is essential to determine whether children have been present or have been involved in any way. It is not advisable for a professional, unless qualified to do so, to perform an assessment of children for abuse or incest. This duty is reserved for designated professionals.

Reporting suspected Neglect or Abuse and Children’s Protective Services Agencies

Clients must be informed that mandated reporters are required to notify Children’s Protective Services (CPS) if child abuse or neglect is suspected. Clients can be informed also, of their right to report their partner’s abuse of children.

It is ultimately the mandated reporter’s responsibility to ensure CPS is contacted in the event of suspected child abuse or neglect.

It is important to prepare for the impact of reporting child abuse on the children and the family as whole. It is imperative for professionals working with family members to provide information to them about what to expect from CPS and, if at all possible, to talk with CPS caseworkers and accompany the family to any court hearings.

The Role of Professionals in Supporting the Victim (usually the mother)

Help her identify and coordinate various services available to her. Support her efforts to participate in and take advantage of the services and, listen as she voices her frustration about the difficulties of meeting the demands of the various agencies.

Can I be Sued for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect?

Any person who in good faith makes a report or gives testimony in regard to possible child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability. Any administrator of a hospital or similar institution or licensed physician taking a child into custody, such as in the instance when a hospital hold is warranted, is also immune from liability (RCW 26.44.060). This is the state of Washington so it’s advisable to check your home state but the above passes the common sense test.

Anonymous is probably the operative word when dealing with violence in the home. You could unintentionally put the whole family at risk. There are professionals who can determine if abuse or neglect is present and will take appropriate action if so.

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