WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT CHILD NEGLECT OR ABUSE? IN A WORD – EVERYONE!
“The reporting and investigating of suspected child abuse and neglect are not discretionary matters. They have been required by law”, the Department of Education explains. In fact, Indiana law requires a more stringent standard of reporting in some professions, and that includes schools. School employees and staff members are obligated by their profession to report child abuse and neglect, whether the abuser is an outsider or a school employee.
The Department of Child Services (DCS) can be reached at 1 800 800 5556.
“It should not matter if the suspected abuse involves a family member, fellow employee, neighbor, friend, acquaintance, or stranger,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds us. “As individuals and employees, we each have the moral responsibility, and at times the legal duty, to take the necessary actions in protecting children.
Your report of suspected or known child abuse is confidential and immune from civil or criminal liability, the FBI assures the public, as long as the report is made in good faith. The big NOT-TO-DO, FBI cautions, is confront the abuser. Instead, call 911 and safeguard the child. The same thing is true of school officials, in a way. “The school should make no attempt to investigate suspected child abuse, nor should the school inform parents or staff of suspicions. Instead the DCS should be called. “Only DCS and law enforcement have the responsibility to determine the truthfulness of the allegation.”
Even assuming that reporting of child sexual abuse takes place, and even assuming the perpetrator of the crime is caught and punished, the unfortunate reality takes the form of long-term psychological damage done to a child. Not all families have access to affordable insurance that covers the needed therapeutic interventions. Those financial realities are daunting, and the civil law system is not equipped to help.
As personal injury attorneys for more than forty years, we see the enormous challenge facing parents when it comes to paying for the long term treatment their abused child is going to need. The only path to relief is through the civil courts. A civil lawsuit is meant to – and only a civil lawsuit has the power to – compensate the victim and his or her family, providing the cash needed for long term therapy costs.
Who is required to report child neglect or abuse? In a word – everyone! But, after the fact, who has the power to force the school or other organization to help financially compensate the victim? In two words – the civil court!