School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting: Mandatory Reporters


Mandatory Reporters

Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

We talked a little bit about the mandated reporters of child abuse. Mandated reporters include all school employees. That includes the janitor. He's a school employee. If he suspects or she suspects something, they have a responsibility to report as well. The following school personnel are required to report: teachers that's us; administrators; supervisors of child welfare and attendance that's the people in the front office; certified student personnel employees those deans of students; vice-principals that are in some high schools; employees of a child care institution head-start teachers need to make a report; the school psychologist can't keep this information to themselves, even though there are confidentiality laws; the counselor; the school nurse the school nurse notices that a child has come in who reports some unusual vaginal bleeding, we've got to report that; presenters of child abuse prevention programs must report; the instructional aid instructional aids can't simply say ëit's the teacher's job to report', if she knows, observes, or has a reasonable suspicion he or she, even as an instructional aid, must report; classified employees, your school secretaries, the people working in the lunch room, even the cooks must make a report; and then of course anybody who's trained in child abuse reporting, like yourself now, have this responsibility. We covered the first part of this slide, so let's just look at the definition of reasonable suspicion. This is a legal term. Reasonable suspicion means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain such a suspicion. In the law we call this the Reasonable Person test. Would a reasonable person in the same situation under the same set of circumstances suspect that child abuse has occurred. We're using and the law is using the reasonable person test. Reasonable person having a reasonable suspicion. Now this reasonable suspicion is based on facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing when appropriately on his or her training and experience to suspect child abuse. We become great observers of children as classroom teachers, so we know when there's been a significant change in a child's behavior in our classroom. A noticeable change in a child's behavior would signal you that something is going on in the home that is problematic. You'll be drawing on your knowledge as a teacher who has taken child development courses in many cases your training and understanding as a parent to help you identify these. It's based on some facts, it's not myth you have some facts that would make you think that. Let's look now at we know we have a duty to report, we know what a reasonable suspicion is, based on some facts using the reasonable person test, we also know who is in those child protective agencies which includes your law enforcement personnel, child protective services which is usually a part of Department of Social Services, the Welfare Department, or some similar name. We also know that you can contact your local Sheriffs Department if you have that in your area. If you have a child in your school who has been through the juvenile justice system and now has a probation officer, that person should be notified as well as the Juvenile Probation Department and again any child protective service.

CREDITS: Instruction and Content by Dr. Erma Jean Sims, Sonoma State University. Videography and Technical support by Mark Niemann, Sonoma State University