Protecting our children is the responsibility of us all. But certain professionals, due to their contact with children, have special responsibilities. These people are called mandated reporters and are of critical importance to the child abuse prevention efforts.
Mandated reporters consistently have provided the most accurate and reliable information on abused and neglected children. Mandated reporters have made more than 70% of the reports of suspected child abuse in recent years.
Mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse immediately to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine based on their medical or professional training or other experience. They also must make a written follow-up report to the investigating County Children and Youth Agency within 48 hours. Mandated reporters who make a report in good faith have immunity from civil and criminal liability that might otherwise result from their actions.
Mandated Reporters Include:
- Health Care Professionals – physicians, medical examiners, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, interns, nurses, public health department personnel, funeral directors and hospital personnel.
- Law Enforcement Officials – police officers, sheriffs, county detectives, coroners, and court officials.
- Social Services Professionals – social services workers, child care workers, and clergy.
- Education Professionals – teachers, principals, school nurses, school administrators, and counselors.
- Anyone who as part of his or her job has contact with children.
Where to report
- ChildLine Abuse Registry (for abuse that occurs in Pennsylvania) 1-800-932-0313
- ChildLine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If it is an emergency or if the abuse is occurring right now, call 911.
When referrals will be made
Referrals will be made to local law enforcement officials when:
- Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or serious bodily injury are caused by persons – whether they are related to the child or not.
- Child abuse is caused by persons who are not family members.
- Serious physical injury is caused involving extensive and severe bruising, burns, broken bones, lacerations, internal bleeding, shaken baby syndrome or choking, or an injury that significantly impairs a child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
What mandated reporters are entitled to know after reporting abuse.
- Findings of the investigation
- Services provided to protect the child
Recognizing Child Abuse
Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law defines abuse as non-accidental serious physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or serious physical neglect caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or caretaker.
Types of Abuse
Child abuse takes many forms, and the warning signs vary. Abuse can be physical, mental, sexual, or happen through neglect. Below are some typical signs of types of abuse. It’s important to recognize that some of these signs by themselves don’t necessarily mean that abuse is occurring. But if these signs are part of a pattern or seem to be continually present, there could be a reason for suspicion.