Mandated reporters have an important requirement to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child to Department of Children and Families (DCF). It may sound simple and straightforward, but you’ll be surprised to learn how many cases can go unreported.
In one incident, a school’s superintendent and supervisor failed to report suspected child abuse to DCF. Their roles in the school system made them mandated reporters – meaning they have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse – yet both failed to do so. The school supervisor and superintendent soon discovered that failure to report abuse may not only harm children, but is also punishable by law.
The superintendent and school supervisor were charged with “failing to report abuse by a mandatory reporter” after both remained silent while aware of an incident that had transpired between a student and the school psychologist. The investigation began when the student alleged that the school psychologist had an inappropriate conversation with her about sex toys and a “sex shop”. The student informed her mother about the conversation and the mother then contacted the school superintendent to initiate an investigation.
The superintendent assured the parent that an investigation would take place. The superintendent further stated that “the district will be calling the department of children and families.” Despite this statement, DCF was not contacted until the parent followed up a second time.
According to the police involved in the case, the conversation the student had with the psychologist was not “criminal” in itself. Yet, more importantly, the failure to report to DCF by the mandated reporter, was a violation of the law. Mandated reporters have an affirmative duty to file a report with DCF when they suspect child abuse. They may or may not believe the allegations to be true, but it is not up to them to decide whether abuse or neglect is present. It is up to DCF to carry out an investigation in order to decide whether or not to support the allegations. Mandated reports are only required to make a report when they have reason to believe abuse or neglect may be present.
Each state has laws in place that require specific groups of professionals who work with children to report any suspected abuse to DCF. These laws are put in place not only to protect children, but to also provide DCF with quality information about said abuse for their investigations.
Children are counting on us to be their advocates. As a moral imperative, it is the right thing to do. By standing up for these children, your actions can be the difference needed in their life. It is always in the best interest of the child for mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters are a part of a larger system that is designed to protect and take care of children. Don’t stay silent. When you think you see signs of abuse or neglect, stand up and be an advocate for that child.
Kevin Seaver is an experienced, trusted lawyer who successfully represents clients against DCF from Boston, Massachusetts. Call Kevin at (617) 263-2633 or request a Free Consultation online!