Teachers as Mandatory Reporters

Many of you know that a teacher is a mandatory reporter, but perhaps many of you don’t know exactly what this entails. I have run into numerous people who have quite a few bits of misinformation about what a mandatory reporter is and what it requires of the person. So, I thought, why not just blog this topic and get the information out there?

A mandatory reporter is a person required by law to report any suspected abuse of a child. It just so happens, and it makes sense as to why, that teachers are just one of several professions that require people in that occupation to be a mandatory reporter. A mandatory reporter must report, not only physical abuse, but verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect of any child under the age of 18. Child neglect occurs when a child under the age of 18 has been abandoned, isn’t being properly cared for, and isn’t having his emotional or physical needs taken care of.

Therefore, in an educational setting, a teacher must be aware of things like these. When a mandatory reporter must call to report child abuse or neglect, it isn’t required for the person to give his name. What information must be given is the child’s name, the suspected abuse, where the child presently resides and where the child is at the time of the call.

Most often, a child welfare employee will be sent out immediately to the location of the child. In my case, it was always the school. Child welfare workers will speak with the child, go to the child’s home, speak with the family members involved and if needed take photographs of the injuries. The child may be removed from the home until a more in depth investigation is able to occur.

As a mandatory reporter and a teacher, I was mandated to report any abuse a child mentioned to me, if he had a mark on his arm from something his mother did during a time of punishment, I had to call it in. If a child mentioned to me that he was spanked with a belt and there were marks, I had to report it. I always spoke with the child prior to calling and let them know that because of what they shared with me, I had to call and report it.

It wasn’t something I kept a secret, and we were told to tell the child that anything he or she said to me was going to be repeated to authorities. At times, it came down to a fine line between a parent seeing something as discipline and the teacher having to report it as abuse.

Teachers as mandatory reporters are a great service to the community. Mandatory reporting was designed to help keep children safe.

What is everyone’s opinions on mandatory reporters having to report the after-affects of disciplining in the home?