Individuals who have regular contact with vulnerable people (e.g., children, disabled or elderly individuals, etc.) are often designated as mandatory reporters. These individuals are required by law to ensure that a report is made to an appropriate agency whenever abuse is observed or even suspected. Every state in America (and all US territories) have statutes on the books which identify those who are required to report suspected child maltreatment, as well as the penalties associated with failing to report such an incident.
It is estimated that over 2,500 children are victimized at daycare centers across the country on a yearly basis. Children look up to adults to protect them from harm, which is why those who regularly work with children are tasked with reporting ANY instances or suspicions of abuse (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc.) to authorities immediately.
Mandatory reporters are required by law to report suspected cases of daycare abuse. This means that they do not have a choice of whether or not to report, and that should they decide NOT to do so, they may be hit by legal ramifications such as heavy fines or even imprisonment.
What Is Daycare Abuse?
To begin with, it is important to note that daycare abuse encompasses a number of forms of abuse such as physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological, all of which can cause considerable harm to the child and hinder their development going forward. In addition, if a mandatory reporter has cause to believe that abuse MAY have occurred, they are required by the law to report the occurrence just the same as if they had witnessed a child being abused.
How To Report Daycare Abuse
Mandatory reporters, according to the law, are required to report ALL instances or suspicions of child abuse (as well as other forms of abuse to vulnerable individuals) to an appropriate agency (e.g., Department of Child Protective Services). See this page for a list of child protective agencies in the US by state. This agency will then carry out an exhaustive and detailed investigation and come up with a recommendation in order to ensure that the child is protected moving forward.
As a mandatory reporter, you are required to file a report within 48 hours of suspicion or discovery of daycare child abuse.
Who Qualifies as a Mandatory Reporter?
According to many states, mandatory reporters include everyone from daycare workers, registered nurses, doctor’s office staff, social workers, dental hygienists and assistants, psychologists and psychiatrists, school administrators, police officers, foster care workers, etc.
A lot of mandatory reporters are usually wary of putting in a report because they are afraid of retaliation or losing their job, when in fact, quite the opposite is true. Failing to report often leads to fines, termination of employment, and jail time. Worst of all, by failing to report, you may be facilitating or enabling child abuse yourself. Should your employer retaliate, you may be protected by law. Most states have civil and/or criminal penalties designed to punish employers who retaliate against employees who submit a report. In addition, you may be able to sue for damages and injunctive relief.