November 11, 2019

Report suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement or child protective services

Author: PHS Ministries
Series: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Stop Sexual Child Abuse

The United States

The U.S. Child Welfare Information Gateway connects child welfare and related professionals to resources to help protect children and strengthen families. It can help you understand your responsibilities under the law of your state.

If you know of a child being abused, report the matter directly to a local or state law enforcement agency or to your state or county department of child protective services. In most U.S. states, all persons who are licensed or certified by the state or who are employees of facilities licensed, certified, or operated by the state are required under law to report child abuse. In most states this includes teachers, daycare employees, nurses, doctors, clinic or health-care facility professionals, and clergy. According to the U.S. Child Welfare Information Gateway:

The circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report vary from state to state. Typically, a report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. Another standard frequently used is in situations in which the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child. In Maine, a mandatory reporter must report when he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is not living with the child’s family. Mandatory reporters are required to report the facts and circumstances that led them to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. They do not have the burden of providing proof that abuse or neglect has occurred.

In some states, the list of mandatory reporters includes teachers, employees of day camps, foster parents, social workers, physicians, nurses, dental hygienists, computer technicians, photographic image processors, clergy, drug counselors, coaches, athletic directors, and others.

To review the laws of your state, go to:Child Welfare Information Gateway—State Statues Search

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