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John W. Parker Cascade County Attorney Detective Cory Reeves Great Falls Police Department Tracy Hemry Department of Public Health and Human Services.

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Presentation on theme: "John W. Parker Cascade County Attorney Detective Cory Reeves Great Falls Police Department Tracy Hemry Department of Public Health and Human Services."— Presentation transcript:

1 John W. Parker Cascade County Attorney Detective Cory Reeves Great Falls Police Department Tracy Hemry Department of Public Health and Human Services

2  1. To Explain and Clarify Your Legal Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect  2. To Distinguish Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect from the Parallel Duty to Report Crimes Committed in Schools  3. To Analyze Hypothetical Cases in Order to Develop Shared Understandings of the Law

3  As a teacher, you are constantly focused on achieving education targets and a host of other issues. You hardly have time for a break.  As a counselor, you are immersed a whole range of challenges your students are facing.

4  As a food service worker, you have the daily logistical challenge of preparing several hundred nutritious meals.  As an engineer, you have to keep the building clean and orderly and ensure heating systems are running properly.

5  The point is, we understand your plate is already full before we even get to the issue of mandatory reporting of child abuse.  We want to start this discussion in the context of the realities of your job.  We understand many of the pressures you face on a daily basis.

6  The incidence of severe child abuse in our community has risen dramatically in recent years  Four child homicides in the past three and a half years  Incidents of infants with broken ribs, toddlers with broken femurs, other physical and sexual abuse—inflicted by adult caregivers

7  Reported incidents of neglect in our community have also risen.  Youth in Need of Care case filings rose dramatically in 2011: 247 cases in 2011, compared with 152 in 201o.

8  Mandatory reporting laws were designed to make sure State social workers and law enforcement have the information they need to help protect kids.  The push for reform began in the early 1960s. Pediatricians led the charge.  Recent tragedies in our community continue to remind us why these laws are necessary.

9  We know you are aware of these disturbing cases from media coverage.  We also know that in many cases, these young victims, or their brothers and sisters, are your students. You are personally involved in many cases.  Clearly, we are all in this together.


11  When a mandatory reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information received in a professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone regardless of whether the person suspected of causing the abuse or neglect is a parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, they shall report the matter promptly to DPHHS.

12  The duty also extends to social workers, physicians and other health care workers, mental health professionals, child care providers, and law enforcement.

13  It is NOT your job to investigate or confirm the facts that have been provided to you.  It IS your legal obligation to provide the information to CFSD through the centralized intake number.  Child Abuse Hotline: 1-866-820-5437

14  Relaying the information to your principal does not fulfill your duty to report.  It is a good practice, however, to share the information so the principal can understand the child’s challenges.  In some cases, sharing the info is necessary to ensure security in the school.

15  The statute does not require you to make a written report  Ask yourself: would you want one if you had to testify in court?  Under the Montana Rules of Evidence, you can make a “refreshing recollection,” but only to a document prepared at the time.

16  You may be wondering why you cannot just call the local office directly.  Centralized intake was designed to ensure uniform treatment of the reports across the entire state.  Parents in these cases seem to move frequently. CI ensures a record of complaints despite frequent moves.

17  CFSD assesses the threat level.  CFSD social workers are called to respond.  If the evidence shows the children are at risk, they are removed from the home and placed in a secure setting pending further court action.

18  Every time I’ve been called out on a child homicide case, I always call CFSD within the first hour to determine if there has been a history of complaints.

19  Anonymity will be compromised.  No one will do anything anyway.

20  We understand how awkward it is that you’ll be sitting across the table from some of these parents in conferences  We hope you understand that the tension is worth it in the long run

21  In addition to your statutory duty to report child abuse and neglect, you have a duty to report crimes committed on your campus.  If you do not, you could be potentially held liable for negligence.

22  M.C.A. § 41-5-102 is the declaration of purpose, and seeks to “prevent and reduce youth delinquency through a system that does not seek retribution….”  Rather, accountability, supervision, restitution when necessary.  Detention in only the most limited circumstances.

23  Student who frequently asks other students for food. Hunger complaints.  Wears the same unwashed clothes to school every day for a month.  Tells another student that he or she is the oldest sibling at home, left to care for others while parents are out drinking.

24  This fact pattern constitutes neglect. You should call it in to centralized intake.  The same holds true for cases of medical neglect.  Important reminder: suspicious bruising, broken bone without reasonable explanation, multiple broken bones over time.

25  You smell the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the student’s locker.  After the lunch break, you smell the odor of marijuana smoke coming from the student’s clothing.  Not child abuse or neglect; rather, a violation of law to be reported to your SRO.

26  Locker room situation  One student snaps his friend on the rear with a towel  Horseplay, no intent to injure  Might be disciplinary, might not. But no violation of state law.

27  What is the duty to report a playground fight?  Let’s think through some variations of the situation.



30  Some of these situations can be a close call, but it is best to err on the side of reporting.  The main point is to ensure that major incidents are appropriately reported to either CFSD or local law enforcment.  Information is the key to protecting children from abuse and neglect!

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