April 15 2021
Individuals mandated to report also vary by state, they generally include childcare providers, clergy, coaches, counselors, healthcare providers, law enforcement, principals, and teachers. In addition to their obligation to report mistreatment of vulnerable patients, healthcare professionals are also required to report certain infectious diseases deemed to be public health hazards to state and local authorities.
Mandatory reporting law establish a legally enforceable duty for those who have contact with vulnerable populations to report to state and local authorities when mistreatment or abuse of those populations is suspected or confirmed. While these laws, and the populations they cover, vary by state, they generally include children, the disabled, and the elderly. Some states also assign this reportable duty to abuse between intimate partners. These laws typically cover neglect, as well as physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse.
Mandatory reporting requirements
Reporting is mandatory for any adult who believes a child has been, or is likely to suffer harm or exploitation, or be a victim of a sexual offence. Harm is defined to include exposure to domestic and family violence, along with other forms of abuse or neglect. Law also requires all adults to report serious domestic and family violence to the police.
Mandated reporters should not wait for a child to tell them about abuse. Properly trained reporters should be alert to indicators of possible abuse, including grooming behaviors and “red flags” that bring to mind possible inappropriate behavior. It is not the reporter’s task to substantiate the abuse, only to report a reasonable suspicion. The most vexing part of the mandatory reporting requirement is deciding what constitutes “reasonable cause to suspect.
If you familiarize yourself with the ways in which perpetrators gain access to children, the grooming process, and the behaviors commonly recognized as “red flags” it is easier to listen when your antenna goes up. One way to think about it, recognizing how incredibly difficult it is to suspect someone you know and trust, is to listen when you have the thought, “I wonder if something is off here?” Or, “I feel uncomfortable about what I am seeing here.”
We are so naturally resistant to thinking child abuse, especially sexual abuse, could be happening, these are the interior signals that you need to pay much closer attention and act affirmatively for children. It is natural to fear that you might ruin an adult’s life by reporting. But by the time we see what is happening, we have enough information to take that step and act to save a child. All states provide immunity for anyone making a good faith report and you have the right to report anonymously.