July 18, 2011
Child/Eder Abuse Reporting
As a human service professional it is important to have a clear understanding of when and how to file a child and/or elderly abuse report. It is not only a legal obligation but an ethical one as well. Many times when children and elders are abused they are afraid to come out and report the abuse, this is a big issue that plagues our society. As a human service professional it is their responsibility to recognize the signs of abuse, as well to know how to report it but who to report it too. In most cases the abuse comes from parents, guardians, and care givers. Both child abuse and elder abuse is a growing epidemic and many cases go unreported. Statistics within California show an estimated 400,000 children and an estimated 630,000 elders are abused yearly. Once an individual becomes a human service professional they become a mandated reporter. As a mandated reporter the law requires all suspected cases of physical, sexual, neglect, and emotional abuse to be reported to proper authorities. “Any person entering employment which makes him/her a mandated reporter must sign a statement, provided and retained by the employer, to the effect that he or she has knowledge of the reporting law and will comply with its provisions (P.C. 11166.5(a))”(State of California, 2003 page 6). When a human service professional has a reasonable suspicion that child abuse has or is taking place a report must be filed. Although human service professionals are also legally responsible to maintain confidentiality once there is suspicion of abuse they are legally responsible to break the confidentiality and report the situation to the proper authorities.
Child abuse comes in many different forms such as physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal. According to California’s penal code 11166, a mandated reporter is required to report child abuse immediately by phone to the local child protective agency, once they are aware of the situation. Along with the immediate phone call a written report must be filed to the local child protective agency, along with the phone call within 36 hours. If for some reason an immediate phone call is unable to happen, the mandated reporter is required to complete and fax or electronically transmit a one-time automated repot. Once a one-time automated report is completed the human service professional must be available for a telephone follow-up from the agency in which the report was filed to. All child abuse or neglect cases are taken very seriously and a complete investigation will be conducted to ensure the safety of the child. If a mandated reporter fails to report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect they are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sentenced up to 6 months in jail and or a $1000 fine.
As a mandated reporter the responsibility also consists of reporting elderly and dependant abuse. An elderly individual is any person over the age of 65, and the dependant adult is an adult ages 18-64 that suffers from either physical or mental limitations. Elderly abuse may consist of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Elderly individuals are considered to be an easy target for abuse due to the fact they are frail and often may be confused, taking medications, mentally or physically impaired. When a human service professional is suspecting elder abuse is present with their client they must immediately contact adult protective services. A written report must also be completed within 2 working days. The written report is known as report of suspected dependant adult/elder abuse. This report must be completed only by a mandated reporter. “Adult Protective…