MANDATORY REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE
Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center
Linda Clay, Community Outreach Coordinator
- Please read the material below, then take the short quiz found at the bottom of this page. You may then be eligible receive a certificate of acknowledgement for this training.
Mandated Reporters will better understand:
- A.R.S. 13-3620 – Mandatory Reporting Statute
- Types of Abuse
- Indicators of Abuse
- Children’s Advocacy Center
Free training for your school, day care, agency, or hospital!!
- Remember that our Community Outreach Coordinator can come to your agency and do a live presentation with examples, stories, and a question and answer session.
- This usually takes from 60-90 minutes and can be done during the day, evenings, or weekends.
Revised Statute A.R.S. § 13-3620 states:
- “any person who reasonably believes that a minor is or has been the victim of abuse… or neglect… shall immediately report or cause reports to be made… to a peace officer or to child protective services.”
- “Minor” (or “child”) means anyone under the age of 18.
You form a“Reasonable Belief” when:
- A child discloses to you information indicating sexual or physical abuse or neglect.
- A child has unexplained injuries or an explanation that is inconsistent with the injuries that lead you to suspect abuse.
- A third party discloses information that gives you reason to believe abuse or neglect has occurred.
*You should not delegate the responsibility of making the report to someone else. Telling your supervisor DOES NOT absolve you of the responsibility of making a report.*
- Reasonable belief does not require certainty!
- You are a Reporter, not an investigator!! Your name is always kept Confidential.
A.R.S. § 13-3620, Immunity for Reporters
- Any person who reports in good faith and
- all reporters are “immune from any civil or criminal liability” for reporting; unless…
- Reporter is charged with or is suspected of committing the abuse
- Or a reporter has acted with malice.
Could I be punished for not reporting suspected abuse?
- A mandated reporter who does not report a sexual offense can be charged with a Class 6 Felony.
- A mandated reporter who does not report another type of abuse can be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Who are mandatory reporters?
- 3 Categories of Mandated Reporters
- Anyone who has the care and treatment of the minor.
- Parents: Their own children, all the time.
- Professional Reporters
- In the course of their duties, all children.
Who are Professional Reporters?
- Persons whose jobs or professions impose a duty to report information received during course of their employment
- Named disciplines:
- Physician, Physician’s Assistant, Optometrist, dentist, osteopath, chiropractor, podiatrist, or nurse.
- Behavioral Health Professional, Psychologist, counselor, therapist.
- Law enforcement, Social worker.
- School personnel, day care staff.
- Church and synagogue clergy, staff
- Domestic violence victim advocate
If you are not a mandatory reporter…
- You are a discretionary reporter and you still may report.
The Department of Child Safety (D.C.S.) vs. Law Enforcement
- D.C.S. deals with abuse and neglect that happens in the home by family members and/or adults who have regular access.
- Law enforcement deal with abuse that occurs outside of the home.
- Both need to be called where sexual abuse and or physical abuse occurs in the home.
- 1-888-SOS -CHIL or 911.
WHAT TO REPORT: VARIOUS TYPES OF ABUSE
Four Domains of Abuse
Failure to provide for a child’s physical needs, which includes:
- Lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing, abandonment, denial of medical care.
- The majority of neglect occurs because parents are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, not because of poverty.
- Report if a child’s safety is at risk. (i.e. chronic lack of food, poor hygiene).
- Also lack of medical care if child is in danger or is at risk.
- The AZ. D.C.S. receives 500 calls a day during the school year.
- Sometimes you will be on hold when you make a report. Be patient.
- Injuries caused by a lack of supervision or inadequate supervision need to be reported.
- Homelessness is not a report to D.C.S. if the family can provide the necessities of life.
- Always call law enforcement if there are serious injuries to a child .
- Is there a legal age for a child to be left alone/unsupervised in Arizona?
- No, it is up to the discretion of the parent but depending on the maturity of the child and circumstances, it is advised that a child be 12 years old.
- Lack of supervision should be reported if child is left with dangerous, inadequate or unsafe caretaker.
- If child’s age and circumstance create a unsafe environment, a report must be made.
Indicators or “Red Flags”
- Child is fatigued, listless, falls asleep in class.
- Underweight, constantly hungry, steals, hoards, or begs for food.
- Poor hygiene, inappropriately dressed for weather.
- Misses a lot of school, day care, appointments.
- Unattended medical needs.
Failure to Thrive (usually 2 years and under)
- Height, weight, and head circumference do not match standard growth charts.
- Weight is lower than the 3% or 20% below the ideal weight for their height.
- Children are not receiving enough food due to economic factors, parental neglect, or psychosocial problems.
Substance Exposed Newborns
- Infants who have been exposed to drugs in the mother’s womb.(in-utero).
- Considered neglect when a pregnant mother is using illegal drugs due to the negative effect on a child’s development.
- Must present a health or safety hazard to a child.
2. Physical Abuse
- Any non-accidental injury to a child.
- Non-accidental injuries include:
- Hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling. Also includes, reckless acts like driving intoxicated with a child in the car.
Indicators or “Red Flags”
- Injuries in shape of objects.
- Unexplained bruises, welts, human bite marks, or bald patches.
- Unexplained burns, cigarette burns, and immersion burns.
- Unexplained fractures, lacerations, abrasions.
- Inappropriate clothing for weather ( in order to hide the bruises or injury).
“Red Flags” for Older Kids
- Runaway behavior.
- Children may shrink from contact, feel threatened or uncomfortable with physical contact.
- Afraid to go home, stays late at school or arrives early.
- Depression, problems with peers or at school
- Other behavioral issues.
Is spanking against the law in Arizona?
- No, but if marks and bruises are caused by excessive hitting or spanking, it goes from discipline to physical abuse, which is against the law.
- Never use a instrument such as a belt, switch, coat hanger, fly swatter, wooden spoon, spatula, electric cord, hairbrush, shoe, or la chancla (sandal).
- Adults can not assess how hard they are hitting a child, especially if they are stressed, angry, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Injury must be present for DCS to document Physical abuse.
3. Sexual Abuse
- Any sexual acts involving a child, this also includes sexual acts between children.
- Sexual exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult.
- Sexual acts include: touching and non-touching behaviors. Touching involves the vagina, penis, breast or buttocks, oral-genital contact and sexual intercourse. Non-touching behaviors include showing pornography, exposing oneself to a child, photographing a child in sexual poses, encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts, inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom.
- Did you know that 80%-90% of children that are sexually abused know their abuser and is in their “circle of trust”?
- 23% of child sex abuse is perpetrated by children under 18.
- Many people are reluctant to report a child sexually abusing another child, but this only allows the abuse to continue and for other children become victims.
- The sooner the child receives intervention and counseling, the quicker they can address the issues.
- Abusers often do not use physical force but use play, deception, threats or other forms of coercion to engage children and maintain their silence.
- Perpetrators may buy them gifts, give them special privileges/ activities, flattery, which confuses the child more.
- Any child 13 or younger having sex with another minor is a D.C.S. report.
- If an adult is having sex with a minor of any age, it is a crime and must be reported.
Sexual Abuse Cases: You are not mandated to report if…
- BOTH parties are 14, 15, 16, or 17.
- There is nothing to indicate sexual conduct is other than consensual.
- Any type of violence or coercion should be reported.
Indicators or “Red Flags” for young children
- Inappropriate sexual play, premature understanding of sex .
- Not easily re-directed and persist in sexual activities.
- Frequent urinary tract infections, bruised or swollen genitals.
- Pain or itching in genital area.
- Difficulty walking or sitting, blood in underwear or diapers.
- Nightmares/ bedwetting.
- Only 5% of children that are sexually abused have signs of injury or trauma!
“Red Flags” for old Children
- Wears baggy clothes to shield self and /or significant weight gain.
- Excessive seductiveness and/or promiscuity.
- Threatened by physical contact from adults.
- Sudden school or peer problems.
- Runaway behavior, suicide attempts or thoughts.
- Not wanting to be left alone with a particular person.
When Talking to Children about suspected abuse
- Only as “Is anyone touching, bothering, or hurting”. Do not plant any ideas, seeds or suggest things.
- Use words that they use to describe their body parts. ( i.e. pee-pee, vv, wiener, willy).
- Remain neutral and non-judgmental.
Why don’t kids report Abuse?
- Adolescents are embarrassed or ashamed and don’t want to call attention to themselves.
- Frequently abusers make threats of bodily harm to a child or child’s family that cause a child to remain silent.
- Abusers may have blamed the childfor the sex abuse and children feel guilty. Teen boys are even more hesitant to report than girls.
- Fear of being removed from home or not being believed.
4. Emotional Abuse
Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development, which includes:
- Blaming, belittling, or rejecting a child.
- Treating a child differently than siblings are treated.
- Persistent lack of concern by the caretaker for the child’s welfare. Yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming and blaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are “bad, no good, worthless” or “a mistake.”
- Only if the abuse significantly affects the daily well being of the child.
- Determined by the condition of the child.
- Can only be substantiated by psychologist and psychiatrist.
Indicators or “Red Flags”
- Small children my have delayed physical development, failure to thrive, stuttering, baby talk ( sucking, rocking).
- Child is withdrawn, depressed, anxious, fearful, aggressive, suicidal.
- Difficult functioning day to day. Poor school performance, learning disabilities.
- Antisocial, destructive, delinquent, poor social skills, substance abuse.
Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center provides:
- One stop services in a non-threatening, child sensitive facility.
- Video and audio recorded forensic interview by child development specialists.
- A compete medical evaluation by trained forensic medical practitioners.
- The Children’s Advocacy Center works in conjunction with D.C.S. Law enforcement and County Attorney office.
- Funded through various grant and private donations.
- Visit our website to see how you can help.
- Donations can be given on-line.
- We always need toys, clothing and children’s items.
Why follow the Protocol?
Research has shown that when Multidisciplinary Protocols are followed, arrest and prosecution rates INCREASE and trauma to the child DECREASES.
You are important to us!
- Mandated reporters are the eyes and ears of law enforcement and DCS.
- Mandated reporters have extensive contact with children on a daily basis.
- Mandated reporters are often the first persons to whom children disclose abuse because of their relationship with the child.
- Mandated reporters are often the first to suspect abuse because they recognize behavioral changes in the child.
MANDATED REPORTER PROTOCOL
Suspected child abuse can be made known to a mandated reporter by three different means:
- A child self discloses abuse to mandated reporter.
- Observation of injury/unusual behavior.
- Third party report of abuse.
You will need to gather basic information from the child…
- If possible, find a quiet private place to talk with the child – One on one conversation
- Do not make promises to the child
–Reassure the child that you will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe
- Be supportive – not judgmental
- Listen – do not make assumptions
- Document exact quotes provided by the child
If the following has not already been volunteered…
Ask the child ONLY these three questions:
1. What happened?
2. Who did this to you?
3. Where were you when this happened?
Third Party Report of Abuse
- If a third party informs a mandated reporter that a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect, the third party should be encouraged to make a report.
- However, it will still be the mandated reporter’s responsibility to make a report to law enforcement and /or the DCS Hotline.
DO NOT notify the parent/ caretaker that you have contacted Police/ DCS
- Premature notifications can hinder investigations and potentially create precarious situations.
- Parents may leave with the child or the adult perpetrator may leave.
- Parents may convince the children to change/recant their story.
- Perpetrators may threaten harm to the child or to someone the child cares about.
- Parents may punish or harm the children for reporting what goes on in the home.
- Mandated reporters shall maintain confidentiality of all information regarding the abuse report.
To Report Suspected Child Abuse:
- Contact the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445)
- Call Law Enforcement
- Call 911
*If you have any doubt…Call BOTH the Child Abuse Hotline AND Law Enforcement*
When reporting to DCS:
- Have identifying information about the child with you.
- Give details about how child is harmed or how child is in danger.
- Answer as many questions as you can.
- Must give your name to the hotline. The investigator may call you if additional information is needed. Your name is confidential.
- Make a note of date and time and what hotline worker tells you.
- Document the name of the DCS case worker.
- Only 33% of reports result in a report assigned to an investigator.
- If your report is not assigned, the hotline specialist will still take the information and enter it in the parent’s case.
When Reporting to Law Enforcement:
- Document the name of the Police Dispatcher you spoke to.
- Ask if / when a patrol officer is expected to respond.
- Document the name/ badge number of the patrol officer upon arrival.
- Document the police case number.
Information that triggers your mandate to report may or may not meet DCS or Police criteria for an actual report, action to be taken, or charges to be filed.
- Only 5% of DCS reports result in children being placed out of the home either with relatives or an alternative placement.
Just a few reminders…
- “Reasonably believes” (low standard)
- “Immediately report or cause reports to be made”.
- Maintain Confidentiality
- 3rd party Reporters can trigger duty
- DO NOT NOTIFY THE PARENTS/OFFENDER
- Report ALL suspected abuse
Thank you for protecting our children! Remember, the Greatest injury to a child is damage to the soul.
Click the link below to take the test and receive certificate of acknowledgement.