Reporting Suspected Child Abuse Required by Law for Some Professions
Anyone can Call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the new school year under way, Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander today reminded the public about the mandated reporting requirements under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law.
The law requires professionals who come into contact with children during the course of their employment, occupation or professional practice to report suspected child abuse. These professionals are known as "mandated reporters."
"Approximately one out of every 1,000 children living in Pennsylvania were found to be victims of child abuse in 2011, and mandated reporters were responsible for 78 percent of all referrals for substantiated reports during the year," Alexander said. "However, the general public can also report abuse to ChildLine, and all reporters to ChildLine are kept confidential."
The ChildLine toll-free telephone number is 1-800-932-0313.
Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, mandated reporters are required to immediately make a report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under their care, supervision, guidance or training is being abused. This requirement also applies when the child is under the care of the mandated reporter's agency.
"Our schools and their committed personnel consistently record the highest number of reports of suspected child abuse by mandated reporters," Alexander said. "It is our obligation to get the word out about who is a mandated reporter and how the state's laws can protect our children."
Mandated reporters include many professionals, for example: doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, school officials, clergy, court personnel, child care workers, county caseworkers and hospitals.
The law says mandated reporters must immediately make a report. If they work in an institution, they must notify a person in charge, who is in turn responsible to make the report. They do not have to know for certain that abuse has occurred, however, a person in charge or the designee must report suspected abuse to ChildLine.
Mandated reporters can learn more about their obligations to report child abuse by printing out an informative brochure on the department's website. To read the brochure, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us and click on For Children, then Child Welfare Services.
Media contacts: Carey Miller or Donna Morgan, 717-425-7606
Editor's Note: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists these signs that indicate a child may be abused:
Signs of Physical Abuse:
- Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
- Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
- Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
- Shrinks at the approach of adults
- Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of physical abuse when a parent or other adult caregiver:
- Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury
- Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way
- Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
- Has a history of abuse as a child
Signs of Neglect
- Is frequently absent from school
- Begs or steals food or money
- Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
- Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
- Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
- Abuses alcohol or other drugs
- States that there is no one at home to provide care
Consider the possibility of neglect when a parent or other adult caregiver:
- Appears to be indifferent to the child
- Seems apathetic or depressed
- Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
- Is abusing alcohol or other drugs
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Has difficulty walking or sitting
- Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
- Reports nightmares or bedwetting
- Experiences a sudden change in appetite
- Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
- Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
- Runs away
- Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when a parent or other adult caregiver:
- Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
- Is secretive and isolated
- Is jealous or controlling with family members
Signs of Emotional Maltreatment
- Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression
- Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example)
- Is delayed in physical or emotional development
- Has attempted suicide
- Reports a lack of attachment to the parent
Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when a parent or other adult caregiver:
- Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child
- Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child's problems
- Overtly rejects the child
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare