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Who is required to speak up about child abuse?
More than 44,000 children were abused or neglected in the state of Pennsylvania in 2016, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA-DHS). Seventy-nine of those children had a near-fatal experience, and 46 of them died.
What’s going on in Pennsylvania?
The safety and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children is a top priority. Twenty-three new laws and regulations brought about by the PA Task Force on Child Protection have focused on reporting child abuse, how it is reported, and the consequences of failure to report any suspected abuse. Mandated reporters list grew over the years increasing the number of people required by law to report suspicions of abuse and neglect.
Who is a mandated reporter?
- A person licensed or certified to practice in any health-related field under the jurisdiction of the Department of State.
- A medical examiner, coroner or funeral director.
- An employee of a health care facility or provider licensed by the Department of Health.
- A school or child-care service employee.
- A spiritual leader of any regularly established church or other religious organization.
- Any person (paid or unpaid) responsible for the child’s welfare or has direct contact with children.
- An employee of a social services agency who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
- A law enforcement official.
- An emergency medical services provider certified by the Department of Health.
- An employee of a public library who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
- An independent contractor who has direct contact with children.
- An attorney affiliated with an agency, institution, organization or other entity.
- An individual supervised or managed by a person listed above.
- A foster parent.
- An adult family member who is a person responsible for the child’s welfare.
However, whether required by law or not, PA DHS encourages anyone who has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect to make a report.
What counts as reasonable cause?
In physical abuse cases:
- Frequent injuries the child has a hard time explaining
- Burns or bruises in unusual patterns
- Cigarette burns
- Defensive injuries
- Unseasonal clothing to hide injuries
- Withdrawal or passiveness
- Fear of going home or seeing family members
In neglect cases:
- Sudden changes in appetite, behavior or school performance
- Complaints about pain in urinating
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Sexually suggestive talk
- Age-inappropriate behavior
How do I file a report?
You can make a report any time you suspect a child is the victim of child abuse or neglect. Trained specialists are available 24/7 to receive referrals of alleged child abuse and general child well-being concerns. If you've suspected child abuse or neglect, make the call to ChildLine at 800-932-0313 or file a report online at keepkidssafe.pa.gov.
Mandated reporters in the state of Pennsylvania can also file a report online, at Pennsylvania's Child Welfare Portal. Visit keepkidssafe.pa.gov for additional information on keeping Pennsylvania's children safe.