B. What is Child Neglect?
“Mental injury” is defined as the observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
This is a complicated question. In some families and cultures, physical discipline (spanking, hitting, and “whipping”) is a common practice in managing the behavior of children. Generally, physical discipline should be reported as abuse if it leaves an injury and either harmed the child or put the child’s health and welfare at substantial risk of harm. Child Protective Services will then determine whether the punishment was abusive considering the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the injury, nature of the punishment, gravity of the act being punished, and the adult’s attempt to use other nonphysical means of discipline.
F. How do I distinguish between child sexual abuse and the crime of sexual assault?
Under the child abuse reporting law, sexual abuse is defined as “any act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a child by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child or by any household or family member.” It includes a wide array of sexual conduct including such things as exposure, sexual advances, and engaging in the pornographic display of a child.
Much of what is reported to Child Protective Services as child sexual abuse also constitutes a crime such as criminal child sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, or rape. However, it does not always work the other way around: not every sexual assault perpetrated on a child is reportable to Child Protective Services as child sexual abuse. Unless a sexual act was perpetrated by a parent, household or family member, or other person caring for or supervising a child, it is not considered reportable "child sexual abuse" even if it is unwelcome or non consensual touching that would constitute a sexual assault.
definition of child sexual abuse—you are encouraged to call 911 to report it.
II. Basic Reporting Requirements
Under Maryland Law, all adults in the State have an obligation to report suspected child abuse and neglect. However, the reporting requirements for members of the USM community are different, depending upon whether they are “professional employees.”
All other members of the campus community are required to call CPS or the police. They may, but are not required to follow up with a written report.
C. Who are “professional employees” in the USM System?
According to the USM Policy, “Professional employee” means a person employed by the USM as a faculty member, administrator, coach or any other employee who provides academic support, student service, or institutional support activities, whose duties require either a college degree or comparable experience.
D. Are students required to report?
The requirement to make an oral report to CPS or the local police extends to students, as well as all members of the USM community other than a USM professional employee acting as a staff member of a USM institution, including other staff, students, and contractors on campus.
E. What if I am a direct witness to child abuse that occurs in connection with the institution?
Call University Police at 4-4444 immediately. If you are a direct witness to an abusive situation involving a child, call the police and provide whatever information you have about the incident. Then follow all of the other procedures for reporting suspected child abuse for your institution.
F. How do I know if I have enough information to have “reason to believe” that an incident may have been child abuse or neglect? Sometimes information may be quite vague, and it is not clear whether to report.
The purpose of a report is to give CPS and the police information that will enable them to begin an investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect. These authorities need information sufficient to identify the child and decide whether the incident may constitute child abuse or neglect under the law. According to child protective services, the information that they need includes:
constituted child abuse or neglect under the law, including:
other person who had care, custody or supervision of the child when
the maltreatment occurred;
of the alleged maltreatment.
If you do not have at least some of this essential information, you are not required to report the incident. However, you still should consider making a report if the facts that you do know genuinely lead you to suspect that child abuse or neglect occurred--even if your information is incomplete. When in doubt, please keep in mind that:
• The decision to make a report is appropriate and protected under the law and
the policy, as long as it is made in good faith; and
that child abuse or neglect may have occurred, to report it.
Here are two examples of the kinds of information that higher education employees may encounter:
inspired me to choose this topic for my term paper.”
clear what the student meant by “abuse,” and there is no indication whether the student
was a child when it occurred or whether he or she experienced any injury as a result.
the student has not been disclosed.
I was molested and sexually abused repeatedly by my stepbrother who is 10 years older than me.”
An oral report shall be made as immediately as is practicable, within forty-eight (48) hours of the event that caused the employee to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect:
(Child Protective Services in the locality where the abuse took place); and
b) The president of the institution, or the person or persons designated by the
President to receive such reports (“the President’s Designee”); and
c) Any other individual, such as a unit head, if required by the institution.
2) If you are a professional employee of the institution who developed a suspicion of
abuse or neglect in the course of your professional duties, a written report shall
be provided to:
that caused the employee to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse
b) the institution President, or the President’s Designee; and
c) the local states attorney, if the incident involved abuse.
H. Where can I find contact information for the authorities to whom I should report?
Check your institution’s web site for contact information, especially web listings of local CPS offices and the identity of your institution’s designee for child abuse and neglect reporting. If you should ever have difficulty finding information about where to report, you may always call 911 to make a report.
The reporting laws ask for the following information, to the extent that you have it:
for the care of the child;
physical or sexual abuse or neglect;
cause of the injury or neglect;
Generally, no. Unless you have a professional relationship with the child in which seeking personal information from the child is the norm (e.g., a counselor), you are discouraged from interviewing the individual to obtain more information. Please simply report the information that you do have, and child protective authorities will take responsibility for interviewing the child to obtain any missing information.
Each institution President has named a specific designee or designees to receive these reports. The designees will keep all reports confidential and will act on them only to assist child protective authorities in their investigations or to respond to ensure campus safety if the incident actually implicated institution activities or persons associated with the institution (e.g., if an institution employee is found to have committed child abuse, or if abuse occurred in connection with an on-campus summer camp). Otherwise, the report will be kept securely and confidentially and not shared with anyone.
Where should I report that incident?
or student during an education abroad experience?
If an employee or student of the University is working in another country and learns of child abuse or neglect from a child in that country, the employee must report to law enforcement or the social service agency in the locality where the disclosure was made.
III. Reporting Past Child Abuse or Neglect Disclosed by an Adult Victim
Reasonable suspicion of child abuse is to be reported even if the alleged abuse occurred in the past and the victim is now an adult. This requirement was clarified in an official Opinion of the Attorney General, 78 Op. Att’y Gen189 (1993), and is applicable to employees and other members of the USM community.
B. Why must I report an incident of past abuse, when the victim is now an adult?
The intent of the law is to protect all children who are subjected to or who may be vulnerable to abuse or neglect. As the Attorney General’s Opinion explains, “Even if one particular victim of abuse or neglect is now an adult . . . others who are still children might continue to be at risk and in need of child protective services.” The Opinion also points out that the criminal prosecution of a child abuser still can take place years after the abuse was committed, and that adult victims may still benefit from services to address the effects of past child abuse or neglect.
C. What if the adult victim does not want me to report?
Maryland law requires that you make a report whenever there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse, even if the abuse occurred in the past and the person is now an adult. If the individual does not want you to report, you may explain that you are mandated by law to report in an effort to protect children who may be at risk. In this situation, explain the victim’s concerns when making the report.
D. What if the adult victim pleads with me not to make a report out of fear that she/he will be
cut off financially and/or shunned by his/her family if the incident is investigated?
Cases of past child abuse or neglect in which a victim fears retaliation and/or disownment by family members is always complicated. In such cases, allegations of child abuse or neglect must be reported to authorities. It is strongly recommended that oral and written reports include details about the family and concerns of the victim pertaining to any cultural values or belief systems that might compromise the safety and security of the victim. The USM reporting form also includes a section for you to explain to child protective authorities any concerns that the victim has expressed or you otherwise may have in connection with filing the report.
You are obligated to report even if the individual discloses that the case was previously heard in court. The child protective authorities will take responsibility for checking information at their disposal regarding their past investigations and the resulting outcomes to prevent duplicative investigations.
IV. Disclosures in Higher Educational Settings
reporting. Again, however, you may still make a report if the information provided gives you
reason to believe that child abuse occurred. In this situation, child protective authorities
would then weigh the circumstances to determine whether to contact the student who
disclosed the friend’s abuse for additional information.
F. What if a young woman, whom I do not know, emerges from the crowd at a campus event and describes past child abuse but does not identify herself at all?
G. At such an event or in a classroom setting, does everyone present who hears a disclosure of abuse have an independent obligation to report it?
If after reviewing this material and other resources on the Child Abuse/Neglect Reporting web site; you still have questions or concerns, you may contact the Towson University Police Department for assistance at 410-704-2134 (Non-Emergency) or 410-704-4444 (Emergency).
Towson University Police Department
Business Office: 410-704-2505
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