If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, what are your next steps?
You must contact the authorities if you even suspect that certain injuries or bruises may not be accidental. You must contact the authorities if you see signs of emotional or sexual abuse or physical neglect. Even if you have made a report about a particular child earlier, you must report each new injury or incident. Do not attempt to interview the child or to manage the situation yourself. Both interviewing and investigating are the responsibility of the authorities.
The phone number for the child welfare professionals and/or law enforcement should be among the emergency numbers posted by each telephone in your program. In most circumstances you should not inform parents you are making a report. Your parent handbook or posted health policies should inform everyone that you are a mandated reporter and that you will report any suspicion of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Optional Resources for Further Study
- Protecting the Abused and Neglected Child, Washington State Dept. of Social and Health Services
- Child Protective Services: Guidance for Mandated Reporters PowerPoint
- The Professional’s Role for a short list of signs of abuse and neglect.
- No Excuse for Abuse Music Video, Washington State DSHS - on YouTube