If you suspect it, you must report it

It’s estimated that every ten seconds a child suffers abuse or rape in the United States.

More than five children die every single day as a result of abuse.

It’s estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of all abuse cases go unreported.

Meanwhile, helping reduce those numbers is as simple as speaking up when child abuse is suspected.

Making a report can be as simple as picking up a phone, and you can even remain anonymous.

Pennsylvania has a Child Abuse Registry, ChildLine, at 1-800-932-0313 individuals can call if they suspect abuse and Warren County Human Services can be reached at 726-2100. Both phone numbers allow you to report suspected abuse and will allow you to remain anonymous.

“The people you’re reporting on don’t know it’s you,” Jan Burek, intake coordinator with Forest-Warren Human Services, said.

Pennsylvania is taking steps to reduce child abuse rates by expanding its mandated reporting laws for child abuse, which require those who interact with children to report suspected abuse.

Under Pennsylvania law, those who, “in the course of employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect… that a child coming before them… is a victim of child abuse,” are considered mandated reporters.

The law further requires a report to be made, “immediately by telephone,” and within 48 hours in writing to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

Essentially, anyone who encounters a child in the course of their work, must report suspected child abuse both by phone and in writing.

Reports are required even if the evidence isn’t first-hand. Those required to make a report due to their profession must do so even if they do not directly interact with the child in question, so long as the child has some sort of involvement with the individuals organization.

Mandated reporters are not permitted to remain anonymous.

Failure to make a mandated report is a misdemeanor crime in Pennsylvania.

According to Ruth Chase with A Safe Place, her organization provides training on mandated reporting laws for organizations which might be impacted.

“Our main focus this year is mandated reporter training,” Chase said. “Anyone who would like to have a program, we’ll put something together. We’ll work with any adult group who, in the course of their job, come into contact with children.

“The training that we provide, hopefully, increases the reporting, teaches them to recognize the signs of abuse and explains their responsibilities as well.”

A Safe Place can be reached at 726-1271.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect:

The child:

Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance,

Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention,

Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes,

Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen,

Lacks adult supervision,

Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn,

Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home.

The parent:

Shows little concern for the child,

Denies the existence of-or blames the child for-the child’s problems in school or at home,

Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves,

Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome,

Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve,

Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs.

The parent and child:

Rarely touch or look at each other,

Consider their relationship entirely negative,

State that they do not like each other.

Burek and Chase pointed out further signs a child may be abused citing:

A child’s account of how injury occurred is inconsistent with the injury,

A child’s account of how injury occurred changes,

A child shows visual impairment of there normal abilities,

A child receives unusual gifts from individuals,

A child reverts emotionally to behavior consistent with a less mature age,

A child has a level of knowledge concerning sexual acts inappropriate with their age.