School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting: Scenario



Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

Let's look at a child abuse scenario. For the past couple weeks, Katrina has come to class with several bruises on her arms. Her teacher, Mr. Chang has observed that Katrina is moody, somewhat withdrawn, frequently she is observed playing roughly with her dolls and other classmates. On one occasion Katrina comes to school with a black eye. Mr. Chang suspects child abuse, but when he questions Katrina she says I fell down on the way to school and got that black eye. Children are fearful about telling you what's actually going on. Even though they're gravely afraid of the abuser, many of them are even more afraid of being removed from their homes and being put into a stranger's home or a foster home or some institution. So they may come up with these seemingly plausible explanations for why they have bruises, welts, black eyes on their bodies. We know that Katrina frequently comes to school with bruises on her arms. Mr. Chang has noticed a change in her behavior, she is now more moody, withdrawn, and when given an opportunity to go to the dramatic play area in the classroom she is reenacting some instances, possibly in her home life, with these dolls and her other classmates. Let's look at two questions. The first one is should Mr. Chang contact Katrina's parents about his suspicions of child abuse? Does Mr. Chang have a responsibility to report his suspicion, doesn't know for sure, of child abuse, and if so, to whom? Let's take about 3 minutes, with our colleagues sitting in close proximity.

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