Reporting child abuse and maltreatment
Ethical and therapeutical alliances
The basic guideline to identify, report and prevent child abuse and maltreatment is embodied in the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, together with the precepts of the New York State Social Services Law and the Family Court Act
Physical abuse on a child is a willful infliction to any child less than 18 years old any form of physical injury, other than by accident, that can cause death; serious or protracted disfigurement or impairment of physical or emotional health or function of any bodily organ. Physical abuse can also be the perpetration of sexual offenses; inducement to prostitution or obscene sexual conduct.
Maltreatment and neglect of a child who is under 18 years of age is committed when the physical, emotional or mental condition of the child is impaired or subjected to imminent danger as the pertinent parent or person who is responsible to extend care neglects to exercise the pertinent minimum level of care or treatment or therapy or medication. Maltreatment and neglect of a child also means abandonment.
A child is emotionally neglected transpires when there are indications of diminished function of the psychological or intellectual capacities. Indications also show lack of interest and motivation and the lack of control and discipline. And these are because the pertinent parent or personal responsible for the child is either unwilling or unable to provide the necessary care, protection and love for the child.
Therefore when these acts transpire or are inflicted on a child, the incident must be immediately reported. The people who are mandated to report any knowledge or any witnessing of such events are those who are mostly in the medical profession; health care; educators; school officials; teachers; social, health and day care center workers; legal professionals and religious leaders
What can guide mandated reporters in ensuring that child abuse is reported is through their basic professional assessment of the condition of the child as what they initially see or have heard. Their evaluation can also be based on personal knowledge gathered from parents themselves or the person who is responsible for the child as to the facts and conditions and circumstances of the life of the child that makes the child susceptible to abuse or maltreatment or neglect.
As a report is being made, additional courses of action can be taken by mandated reporters. They can start gathering evidence. They can take or request photographs, x-rays, full medical examination.
An abused or maltreated child once taken into protective custody, the social worker plays a very important role in the ensuing events. Social workers exercise the maximum ethical principle of their service towards helping those who are in need and also to promote their health and well being.
The effect of abuse, maltreatment or neglect on a child has an indeterminate term effect: it could be for long period of time or short period of time. Effect could either be reversible or irreversible. It could also be manageable or managed with difficulty. The presence of social workers or health service workers in the lives of abused children provides significant support for them to be cured or saved from such dilemma. In their care, prevention of any further infliction on the child will definitely be avoided. Under their care, they can administer therapeutic intervention and moral and spiritual support to ease the pain. Social and health workers contributed immensely to child protection from the time their exercise their authority as mandated reporter until the time that the subject abused child is put under their care until the time that hopefully the abused child will get past the said experience. In whatever manner, be it the prevention, the reporting or the curing of abuse and maltreatment, social and health workers contribute to the general welfare of children, of families, of the society.
Upon the identification of abuse and a child is taken into custody, the process can be initiated with or without the order of the court or with or without the consent of the parents or persons responsible for the child. Law enforcement officials are sufficient arbitrators of the decision for a protective custody for an abused child be implemented.
Under custody, the child must first be brought to a hospital and the parents must nevertheless be made aware of the details of the hospital where their child was brought. If custody was undertaken prior to a court order, the court must be immediately advised of the imminence of taking the initiative towards the custody. A formal child protective proceeding and custody legal process will have to be conducted immediately through the Family Court. Thorough investigations will be conducted. The mandated reporter has the right, the authority, the responsibility to keep track on the development of a child abuse reported.
Mandated reporters who undertake the initiative and responsibility to identify, report, prevent or abort child abuse and maltreatment are legally protected from any kind of liability when they make the report within good faith and as warranted by the expertise of their profession. Confidentiality is likewise exercised on the full and true identity of a mandated reporter.
On the other hand, an incidence of child abuse that shall arise and the same not having been reported when a nearby mandated reporter is available, the oversight of such mandated reported can become a civil liability. He can either be made answerable to a Class A misdemeanor or liable for damages caused by the failure to report.
The Children Act of 1989 has outlined the value of a communal and societal responsibility to protect children. The obligation towards their safety and wellbeing is an integrated effort of government, families, society, social and health workers and professionals. Every aspect of law and the services of the law are geared firstly to remind parents about what their responsibility is all about in bringing up their children. It is in recognizing the profound purpose of parenting that abuse and maltreatment and neglect are avoided.
The combined efforts of all members of society to ensure child protection could really be powerful and sufficient enough to warrant the safety, protection and wellbeing of children. If it does become insufficient, then mandated reporters from the health and medical profession; the social workers; health workers, educators, law enforcers, religious leaders can and must use their legal, statutory, civil powers and authority to protect the interest and welfare of children.
“The Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment Course
For Mandated Reporters”
National Association of Social Workers
Barker, Judy and Hodes, Deborah T. “The Child in Mind:
A Child Protection Handbook”. 2003
Routledge Publishers, 2003