Who Can Report Child Abuse?
The answer is simple. Anyone who witnesses abusive behavior towards a child can and should report it! Keep in mind, child abuse takes many forms including physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, neglect, exploitation, Shaken Baby Syndrome, bullying, and more. The shocking truth is that neglect is the number one form of child abuse in America. More children die from neglect every year, than from any other form of maltreatment.
Child abuse is not just a family problem. It’s a social health issue. Child abuse is everyone’s business. We urge everyone to be a child’s advocate and report child abuse and neglect. If you see or hear something suspicious, say something. Speak up. Report it! You may save a child from further harm, or you may even save a child’s life.
What to do Next?
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are a child who is being harmed, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency, so professionals can assess the situation. Many states have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Reporting abuse can protect a child and get help for a family. It may even save a child’s life.
The National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).
Who are Mandated Reporters?
Certain persons, known as mandated reporters, are required by law to report any known or suspected instance of child abuse.
All States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes identifying persons who are required to report suspected child maltreatment to an appropriate agency, such as child protective services, a law enforcement agency, or a State’s toll-free child abuse reporting hotline.
Approximately 48 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment. Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children. Such individuals may include:
- Social workers
- Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
- Physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers
- Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
- Child care providers
- Medical examiners or coroners
- Law enforcement officers
Some other professions frequently mandated across the States include commercial film or photograph processors (in 12 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico) and computer technicians (in 6 States). Substance abuse counselors are required to report in 14 States, and probation or parole officers are mandatory reporters in 17 States. Directors, employees, and volunteers at entities that provide organized activities for children, such as camps, day camps, youth centers, and recreation centers, are required to report in 13 States. Six States and the District of Columbia include domestic violence workers on the list of mandated reporters, while six other States and the District of Columbia include animal control or humane officers. Illinois includes both domestic violence workers and animal control or humane officers as mandatory reporters. Court-appointed special advocates are mandatory reporters in 11 States. Members of the clergy now are required to report in 27 States and Guam.
Eleven States now have faculty, administrators, athletics staff, and other employees and volunteers at institutions of higher learning, including public and private colleges and universities and vocational and technical schools, designated as mandatory reporters. View full report.
Required mandated reporter or not, we all are responsible for the health and safety of American children. See something. Hear something. Please speak up, because a child can’t. Report it!