Mandated reporters are individuals responsible for reporting suspected abuse or neglect. Failure to report suspected abuse or neglect may result in civil or criminal penalties. School professionals are mandated reporters. Therefore, it is critical for school professionals to understand mandated reporting requirements as well as behavioral, medical or other indicators of abuse.
In addition to clear policies and procedures for the school district, medical professionals involved in the care of children have a unique role in identification of potential abuse. In the professional capacity of a school nurse or other health care professional, medical abuse indicators may present in the school setting.
Examples of reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect include:
- Injuries that are unexplained
- Injuries that are inconsistent with a child/adolescent’s developmental level
- Repeated injuries, even if reported to be accidental
- Genital findings such as bruising, bleeding, or discharge
- Disclosures of abuse
Note, lack of awareness about these issues is not a defense. School professionals, including health care providers, have a professional standard to recognize and respond to abuse indicators by generating a mandated report. Note, a mandated report is not an accusation of abuse, not should the mandated reporter conduct his/her own investigation of abuse. Once reasonable concern is generated, the report should be made and thereafter the proper authorities conduct an investigation.
A child abuse pediatrics/forensic pediatrics review of a case involving concern for mandated reporting/response to abuse indicators will explore the above issues in an evidence-based manner. Our child abuse pediatrician has experience and expertise in this area and has evaluated such matters for civil and criminal matters (for plaintiff and defense).