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Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Taron Brown Davis, JD Children’s Law Office University of South Carolina School of Law.

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Presentation on theme: "Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Taron Brown Davis, JD Children’s Law Office University of South Carolina School of Law."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Taron Brown Davis, JD Children’s Law Office University of South Carolina School of Law

2 Mandatory Reporters  Doctors  Nurses  Dentists  Optometrists  EMT’s  Mental Health  Allied Health  Clergy  Teachers  Counselors  Principals (and assistants)  Social Workers  Substance Abuse Counselors  Childcare Workers  Foster Care Workers  Police  Undertakers (and staff)  Funeral Directors (and staff)  Film Processors  Computer Technicians  Judges

3 Child Abuse and Neglect Defined  It is abuse or neglect when a child is injured by the intentional acts or omissions of an adult  DSS gets involved in child abuse and neglect cases that involve a parent or guardian as the perpetrator

4 Child Abuse and Neglect Defined  Physical or mental injury  Excessive corporal punishment  Sexual offenses  Failure to supply food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care  Abandonment  Encouraging delinquency  Substantial risk of abuse or neglect

5 Physical Injury (Physical Abuse)  Death  Permanent or temporary disfigurement  Impairment of any bodily organ or function

6 Mental Injury  Injury to intellectual, emotional, psychological capacity or functioning  Existence of the impairment must be supported by expert opinion(in court)

7 Corporal Punishment  Corporal punishment may be administered as a method of discipline provided that it is: -administered by a parent or guardian -for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child -is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree -has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child -and is not reckless or grossly negligent

8 Sexual Abuse  If defined as a sexual offense according to the criminal laws of South Carolina

9 Neglect  Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care, though financially capable of doing so

10 Abandonment  Willfully deserting or surrendering a child  And failing to make adequate arrangements for the child’s needs

11 When to Report  Reason to believe: -child’s physical or mental health or welfare -has been or may be adversely affected -by abuse or neglect  And this information is received in your professional capacity

12 Reason to Believe  Law requires report to be made when there is “reason to believe”  Does not require the reporter to have conclusive proof  Does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt  Information must be such that a reasonable person would rely upon it, including hearsay

13 Where to Report  To the county DSS office or  To law enforcement or  To the coroner(child death) In the county where the child lives or is found

14 Confidentiality  DSS and law enforcement must keep the identity of the reporter confidential  May share the name of the reporter with each other to further their investigations  Reporter may also be required to testify

15 Immunity from Liability  Reporters are immune from civil and criminal liability for reporting child abuse and neglect in good faith  Law presumes that child abuse and neglect reports are made in good faith

16 Failure to Report  A person who is required to report child abuse and neglect and who fails to do so has committed a crime -punishable by $500 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment

17 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting  Reason to believe  Information received in your professional capacity  You must report(can no longer cause a report to be made)

18 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: responding to the child  Listen attentively  Do not probe for details  Do not remove clothing  Do not indicate disbelief, shock, or anger  Explain actions you will take  Do not give false assurances

19 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: making the report  As soon as possible  Do not assume the role of CPS investigator  Do not wait for proof  Providing name is preferred  Follow organizational procedures  You are individually required to report

20 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: information sharing  Child’s name  Age and date of birth  Address  Present location  Names and ages of siblings  Parents names and addresses  Reasons for concerns  Any known history of violence in the home

21 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: documentation  Document the basis for your concern, including the physical and behavioral signs  Document the child’s statements to you, use the child’s words  Record the child’s demeanor  Record the date and agency individual to whom you spoke

22 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: dealing with parents  It is best not to contact parents about your suspicions before making a report  Never accuse a parent of wrongdoing  If necessary, explain that you are legally responsible to report

23 Nuts and Bolts of Reporting: follow- up  Provide additional information  Be available to testify  Participate in multidisciplinary teams to make recommendations for the child

24 Processing the Report Within the Child Welfare System  Emergency Protective Custody  Intake and Investigation  Case Determinations  In-home treatment Cases  Family Court Cases

25 Emergency Protective Custody  Sometimes when abuse or neglect is reported it results in the child being taken into emergency protective custody (EPC)

26 Standard for Taking Emergency Protective Custody  Child’s life, health, or physical safety must be in imminent and substantial danger as determined by a law enforcement officer or a judge

27 After EPC  The law requires DSS to make an effort to place the child with family or some other familiar environment (if appropriate)  Most children are placed in foster care or a shelter  There is a probable cause hearing within 72 hours of the EPC

28 Intake and Investigation  DSS may accept a report or decline investigating a report  However, DSS keeps a record of all reports

29 Investigation  Must commence within 24 hours of the agency accepting the report  DSS checks for previous reports  DSS must report sexual abuse to law enforcement within 24 hours  Other violations of the criminal law must be referred to law enforcement

30 Investigation  DSS notifies the parent or guardian  May interview the child outside the parent’s presence  May inspect school, medical, or other records  Family preservation and reunification when appropriate

31 Case Determination  DSS has 45 days to complete the investigation  Will determine whether the report should be indicated or unfounded

32 Indicated Report  DSS believes that a preponderance of evidence supports a finding of abuse or neglect

33 Unfounded Report  DSS does not believe there is a preponderance of evidence to support a finding of abuse or neglect

34 In-home Treatment Cases  DSS may, in its discretion, offer services to a family without court involvement

35 Family Court Cases  Two Categories -Intervention -Removal

36 Intervention Cases  The family court orders the parents to cooperate with services  Child remains in the home  Case may periodically be reviewed by the court

37 Removal Cases  The family court orders the parents to cooperate with services  The child is removed from the parents’ home  Case will be reviewed periodically until the child is in a permanent home  May result in termination of parental rights

38 Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect  A perpetrator’s name must be entered if there is a finding of: -physical abuse -sexual abuse -willful or reckless neglect

39 Final Thoughts about Mandatory Reporting  Must report if you have “reason to believe”  Do not worry about retaliation  Presumption that reports are made in good faith  DSS and law enforcement must keep your identity confidential

40 Children’s Law Office 1600 Hampton Street Suite 502 Columbia, South Carolina (803)


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