Under Maryland law, you must report if you have “reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect,” Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Article, Section 5- 704(a) and 5-705(a). In some instances, you may witness an incident or receive information that obviously will require a report. In other situations, the need to make a report may not be clear, especially when the information that you have is vague or substantially incomplete.
If the need for a report is unclear to you, consider whether reporting the information would provide Child Protective Services or the police with enough information to initiate an investigation of possible incident. Could you provide sufficient information to identify and contact the victim? Would that information allow Child Protective Services or the police to determine whether the incident constituted child abuse or neglect under the law? Consider whether the victim was a child (i.e., under age 18) when the incident occurred; whether the alleged perpetrator was a parent, household or family member, or other person who had care, custody or supervision of the child when the maltreatment occurred; and whether the child was injured, harmed or at substantial risk of harm as a result of the alleged maltreatment.
If you do not have the information above, you are not required to report the incident. However you still should consider making a report if you
genuinely suspect that it was child abuse or neglect.
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. Child Protective Services encourages individuals who have any genuine suspicion that child abuse or neglect may have occurred to report it.
If you have any concerns or doubts as to whether to report an incident, feel free to direct any questions to Child Protective Services or consult with TU Chief of Police Bernard Gerst at 410-704-3383. During non-business hours, contact the Towson University Police Department via the non-emergency telephone number 410-704-2134. For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions about reporting suspected child abuse.
Call the Child Protective Services hotline or local police where the suspected abuse or neglect took place as soon as possible. The Child Protective Services website lists the local Child Protective Services reporting hotline numbers. If you are unsure of the location where the suspected maltreatment occurred, call Child Protective Services or the campus police who will help determine the appropriate agency to notify. Always call 410-704-4444 immediately if you witness child abuse or neglect actually taking place on campus.
After making a report to Child Protective Services, also promptly inform TUPD Chief Bernard Gerst at 410-704-3383 during normal business hours or campus police at 410-704-4444 (emergencies) or 410-704-2134 (non-emergencies) to report suspected child abuse and neglect if:
If you are a professional employee who makes a report in the course of your work duties, you must follow up your oral report with a written report within 48 hours of when you suspected that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred.
Reports should include all of the following information, to the extent that it is known by the individual reporting:
The reporter is only required to report information that is either witnessed by you, disclosed to you, or which you have learned as part of your regular professional responsibilities (e.g., a health care practitioner’s review of medical reports or records). You are not expected or encouraged to interview the child or conduct any independent inquiry into the incident or disclosure that led to the belief that abuse or neglect has occurred. Reporters should not initiate their own investigation of the alleged maltreatment.
In some cases, you will not have sufficient information to complete the form. Simply report the information that you have and leave the other items blank.
While you are personally responsible for reporting suspected child maltreatment, duplicative reporting is not required under the law or university policy in these situations:
Your identity as a reporter of suspected child abuse or neglect will be kept confidential by both Child Protective Services and the university. Maryland law and university policy offer immunity from reprisal to any member of the campus community for making a good faith report of child maltreatment. By following the provisions of the University policy and these procedures in good faith, you will have met your obligations under the law and the policy to report suspected child maltreatment.
Depending upon the specific circumstances of the alleged child maltreatment, you may be contacted by Child Protective Services or the Towson University designee for more information after making a report.
Under state and federal child abuse confidentiality laws, it is possible that you will not be informed of the results of the child maltreatment investigation that was initiated in response to your report. If you are not contacted by Child Protective Services or the Towson University designee, please do not assume that the concern which you reported was not adjudicated.
Under the official Attorney General’s opinion interpreting Maryland’s child abuse reporting laws, Maryland citizens are required to follow the state’s reporting requirements for suspected child abuse or neglect, even if you learn about the maltreatment for the first time from an adult victim who was under the age of 18 when the incident occurred. USM institutions are obligated to follow this requirement.
The child abuse reporting requirements are the same for information about past abuse. According to Child Protective Services, these reports are important to “determine whether children in the household or care of the alleged abuser or neglector are currently in need of protection.” (Department of Human Resources Circular Letter SSA 95-14).
In many instances of past abuse disclosed by an adult victim, the information disclosed to you may be incomplete. Use the guidance at the top of the page to determine whether the information is sufficient to make a report. Once again, it is not necessary for you to approach or interview the victim to obtain additional information. Simply report the information that you do have available, especially any information that helps Child Protective Services to determine whether children currently are at risk of abuse or neglect. Try to report:
You are required to report the name and contact information that you have regarding the adult victim. However, if you have any reason to be concerned that the adult victim may be distressed or will otherwise experience negative consequences as a result of your report, make that concern clear when you make your report orally and, if required, in writing. You can also consult with TUPD Chief Bernard Gerst during business hours or the Towson University Police Department during non-business hours to provide such guidance.
While it is not required that you inform the adult victim that you are making a report, you should feel free to do so.