April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. We want everyone to know that anyone can call child protective services and make a report of child abuse or neglect anonymously. However, there are certain professionals who interact with children that are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. People serving in these roles are known as mandated reporters.
These professionals include, but are not limited to, teachers and school officials, daycare workers, social workers, physicians, nurses, attorneys and psychologists. For further details about the Ohio mandated reporting law, visit Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.421. The Ohio Revised Code also lists specific working definitions of an abused child, a neglected child, a dependent child and sex offenses.
This law provides immunity from civil or criminal liability for those who make reports in good faith about possible child abuse or neglect. As a rule of thumb, we often tell people that when in doubt, they should make the call to the appropriate county child protective services hotline. A mandated reporter may face criminal charges for failing to report cases of suspected or disclosed abuse or neglect. The Ohio abuse reporting law (ORC: 2151.421), states that mandated reporters must immediately make the abuse or neglect report. For more information, follow this link.
Upon reporting, the identities of mandated reporters will remain confidential. However, it is possible that identities may be released to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, prosecutors, law enforcement or a child protective services agency.
So what can they expect when they do call? A caller will be linked to a person who is trained in receiving calls of suspected child abuse and neglect. When calling the hotline, please know that wait times can vary due to the influx of call volumes during certain times of the day.
In Franklin County, Ohio, there is a set of questions that the caseworker will ask the caller. Think of the following as a checklist to complete prior to making the initial call. It is important to note that even if you do not know the answers to parts of these questions, you can still make the call.
- Name and address of the agency/business of the mandated reporter
- Name, age, home address and current location of the child or children
- Race and ethnicity of the child or children and any involved family members
- Description of the alleged or disclosed abuse or neglect (the more information provided, the better)
- Name, address and location of the alleged abusers, if known
- Names and addresses of the parent(s) or caregiver(s)
- Whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved, the family has weapons or aggressive pets
Mandated reporters may have questions about what happens once a report is made. After making a call, Franklin County Children Services caseworkers and supervisors will assess the circumstances and could intervene after considering the following:
- Age and maturity of the alleged victim(s)
- Extent and cause of injuries, if any
- The parents’ ability to protect
- Family supports and resources
- Pattern of behavior
- Ability of other adults to protect
- Prior child protective service history
Mandated reporters are entitled to a certain amount of information after a report has been made. The mandated reporter will be sent what is called a mandated reporter letter, after the screening decision has been made.
For the Franklin County Children Services guidelines to making a report, please click here: http://childrenservices.franklincountyohio.gov/assets/pdf/brochures/reporting-abuse.pdf.
To report suspected abuse or neglect of a child in Ohio, call toll-free 855-OH-CHILD (855-642-4453). If you have questions about mandated reporting in your area and are looking for confidential answers, contact “Where’s The Line?” by calling 844-234-LINE (5463), texting 87028 or chatting online at www.WheresTheLine.info. The information coordinator is able to provide clarification, advice and direct you to helpful resources Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Support Child Abuse Prevention Month by sharing this article with friends and family on social media, and use hashtags #30MinuteHeroes, #ChildAbusePreventionMonth and #NCAPM2018.
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Ohio Children’s Trust Fund (Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign)
Ohio Counties: Children Services Directory
Franklin County Children Services
24/7 Child Abuse Hotline: 614-299-7000
Client Rights Officer: 614-275-2621
National Child Abuse Hotline