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CAC Director: Whether You’re a Mandated Reporter or Not, Report Suspected Child Abuse

State website encourages everyday citizens to "err on the side of over-reporting"

The child sex abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University has knocked Americans to their knees by the alleged crimes that were allowed to continue over more than a decade of red flags and even eyewitness accounts.   One  place that works closely with children who have been sexually abused in this area is the Child Advocacy Center. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore has this interview with its executive director on what she thinks Missourians should learn from this tragedy. 

“I wish I could say it was an exception to the rule, but unfortunately, it’s not,” says Barbara Brown Johnson, executive director of the CAC.

She says the latest research in her field shows that fewer than half of mandated reporters—those members of certain professions working with children, like teachers, clergy and nurses—actually report when they should.

“The research also tell us that when the person [who suspects the abuse] knows the alleged perpretrator, they are even less likely to report it,” she said.

Some of those reasons could include fallout, or embarrassment if they’re wrong.  

“The takeaway message [from this situation] is: it doesn’t matter if you’re  a mandated reporter or not. If you have a suspicion that a child is being harmed, the fallback should be, ‘Call it in.’ You don’t have to know for sure,” Johnson said.

Investigations don’t happen like they do on TV, she said.  By  and large, they are respectful, with the goal of keeping families together when at all possible, and keeping children safe.

“There just should not be a reason for not reporting suspicions,” Johnson said.

Missouri’s Child Abuse Hotline is: 1-800-392-3738.

For more information on reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, click here for Missouri’s Department of Social Services.