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A lawsuit filed against Republic R-III Schools in June is now raising questions about what’s supposed to happen when a student reports that he or she has been abused. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark spoke with one local expert about those individuals referred to as “mandated reporters,” and what that entails exactly.
Barbara Brown-Johnson works as the Executive Director for the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield. She deals with many cases involving child neglect and abuse, and many of those cases are directly linked to mandated reporting issues.
“Mandated reporting is the system’s response.”
More plainly put, mandated reporting is a responsibility upon certain people who work with children. By law, these individuals are required to report child abuse or neglect if they suspect it.
Brown-Johnson said that these laws have “been on the books” for many decades and believes that calling a child abuse hotline is never an inappropriate response to a questionable situation. The Child Advocacy Center trains and teaches many groups around the community about how to report suspected cases of abuse.
“We often say, don’t try to figure it all out, just call the hotline, and then just let the system take over. That really is the best approach.”
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ website www. childwelfare.gov, people working with children are legally bound to call even if they only just suspect mistreatment or cruelty.
“If they say it’s happened, it has probably happened. Nationwide, false allegations or false reports, they constitute about 3-4% of all of the child abuse allegations across the nation.”
The child abuse hotline number is 1-800-392-3738. Anyone who suspects neglect or mistreatment can call that number twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
A long list of professionals are mandated reporters: teachers, social workers, medical and health professionals, childcare providers, and clergy members are among them.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.