Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting
From OpenContent Curriculum
Overview of Abuse and Neglect Reporting
Alaska Statute 47, Chapter 17 (Child Protection), requires certain professionals to report child abuse or neglect that comes to their attention during the performance of their professional duties, if they have “reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of child abuse or neglect…”
Teachers and administrators are required by law to report to the nearest office of the Department of Health and Social Services, instances wherein the performance of their professional duties, they have cause to believe that a child has suffered harm as a result of abuse or neglect. The teacher or administrator who, in good faith, makes a report of abuse or neglect, shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability.
Appropriate in-service training for professional staff shall be provided in accordance with state regulations.
Here is the official state resource page on reporting child abuse and neglect:
Alaska State Law
Who are mandated reporters?
The following persons who, in the performance of their professional duties, have reasonable cause to suspectthat a child has suffered harm as a result of abuse or neglect, must immediately (as soon as reasonably possible-no later than 24 hours) report that information to the nearest office of the state’s Department of Health & Social Services, Office of Children’s Services:
- Practitioners of the healing arts, including chiropractors, mental health counselors, social workers, dentists, dental hygienists, health aides, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, optometrists, osteopaths, naturopaths, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, physicians, physician assistants, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychological associates, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, hearing aid dealers, marital and family therapists, religious healing practitioners, acupuncturists, and surgeons;
- Administrative officers of institutions, including public and private hospitals or other facilities for medical diagnosis, treatment or care;
- Paid employees of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs, and crisis intervention and prevention programs;
- Paid employees of an organization that provides counseling or treatment to individuals seeking to control their use of drugs or alcohol;
- School teachers and school administrative staff members (public and private schools);
- Peace officers and officers of the state Department of Corrections;
- Child care providers, including foster parents, day care providers and paid staff.
The law encourages the persons named above to also report cases that come to their attention in their nonprofessional capacities. Further, the law encourages any person to report instances of known or suspected abuse and neglect.
What are child abuse & neglect?
STATE LAW DEFINES child abuse or neglect to include the following actions by those responsible for a child’s welfare:
- Physical injury that harms or threatens a child’s health or welfare;
- Failure to care for a child, including neglect of the necessary physical (food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention), emotional, mental and social needs;
- Sexual abuse, including molestation or incest;
* Sexual exploitation, including permitting or encouraging prostitution;
- Mental injury--An injury to the emotional well-being, or intellectual or psychological capacity of a child, as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child’s ability to function in a developmentally appropriate manner; or
- Maltreatment--A child has suffered substantial harm as a result of child abuse or neglect due to an act or omission not necessarily committed by the child’s parent, custodian or guardian.
What is my legal liability?
ACCORDING TO STATE LAW, a person who, in good faith, makes a report, permits an interview under 47.17.027, or who participates in judicial proceedings related to reports submitted is immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
A person required by law to file a report of abuse or neglect who willfully or knowingly fails or refuses to do so is guilty of a class misdemeanor.
Office of Children's Services
The state has an Office of Children's Services - which is part of the Division of Family and Youth Services - that is charged with the role of ensuring that reports are handled in a timely fashion.
BSSD Reporting Procedures
In a general sense, here are some bullet points about BSSD's reporting procedures:
- The teacher or Principal suspecting abuse or neglect may initially question the child, however, in no case should the child be subjected to pressure in order to validate the suspicion. Validation of suspected child abuse or neglect is the responsibility of the Division of Family and Youth Services, Department of Social Services in Nome, Alaska.
- Teachers report all suspected abuse or neglect situations to their site administrators. A report will be called in immediately to the Department of Social Services, Division of Family and Youth Services. The administrator may request the Coordinator of Special Education to call in the report. The teacher and Principal may choose to remain anonymous in the reporting process. If DFYS cannot be reached immediately, and immediate action is necessary to insure the child’s safety, a report may be made directly to the village peace officer, who is required by law to notify DFYS.
- The person initiating the oral report to DFYS will complete the reporting form and mail it within 48 hours of the phone report. A copy of this form is then sent to the Coordinator of Special Education.
BSSD Reporting Form
The link below will download a Word document that can be used to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect.
The confidential form is sent to Office of Children's Services, and also to Rebecca Concilus' office as either a scan, a fax or an email attachment. She keeps track of the reports, and can provide follow up assistance.
What Happens After the Report?
The social worker will inform the State’s Attorney at the Judicial Department, and the report will be investigated further. A decision will be made whether to file criminal charges or a civil action to protect the child if the report of neglect or abuse is verified.
If there is a court proceeding, the teacher or administrator may or may not be called as a witness depending on the facts of the case. But if they do have to testify, the fact that they made the initial report will still be kept confidential.
The Coordinator of Special Education will refer suspected victims of abuse or neglect to the school psychologist and counseling department for special services at the request of the site administrator and/or teachers.
Personnel Training Requirements
According to AS 47.17.022, “A person employed by the state or by a school district who is required under this chapter to report abuse or neglect of children shall receive training on the recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
District Training Plan
The Coordinator of Special Education explains the reporting requirements to the site administrators at orientation meetings.
By October of each school year a half-day training in the prevention of child abuse will be provided for all district teachers and educational program aides by site administrators with technical assistance from the Coordinator of Special Education as requested.
The Bering Strait School District is involved in on-going communication with the Department of Health and Social Services, Norton Sound Mental Health, Norton Sound Health Corporation, Bering Sea Women's Group, and local police officers. All referrals are handled in a confidential manner. We make every reasonable effort to insure this protection.
- report suspicions to site administrator
- make sure admin has followed through with calling in the report
- complete written report within 48 hours of phone report
- may question the child
- if suspicions are warranted call OCS and report or request the Coordinator of Special Education to report to OCS
- make sure a written report has been completed within 48 hours of phone report
- send copy of report to Rebecca Concilus, Coordinator of Special Education
Other School Staff
If you suspect the maltreatment of any child please inform your building principal of your suspisions.
We are all responsible for the welfare of the children in our communities. You are encouraged to report instances of known and suspected child abuse and neglect.
Indicators of Child Abuse or Neglect
The following are excerpts from a more detailed list of indicators compiled by the government of British Columbia, the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology. Although not an official list of symptoms, these may good to keep in mind with other factors relevant to village and community norms when considering potential signs of abuse and neglect:
- Children who are frequently late or absent. The child may be neglected; parents may be having trouble coping; or the child may be expected to take on parental duties and may not be allowed to attend school on some days.
- Children who come to school early or who are reluctant to home in the afternoon. May suggest a lack of caring at home;one at home; fear of going home.
- A child who is inadequately dressed for the weather may be neglected.
- Children with welts, bruises and other physical injuries should be seen by a doctor or nurse, and the incident reported immediately if there is cause to suspect non-accidental injury.
- Children who are hyperactive, destructive, and aggressive may be reflecting the violence at home. Children who act up may be asking for help.
- Children who are withdrawn, passive, overly compliant can be emotionally damaged. Many abused children feel very little emotion, having withdrawn to their own world.
- A child who has obvious medical needs that are unattended may well be physically neglected.
- Children who are undernourished and who go without breakfast and/or lunch can be suffering from neglect unrelated to poverty.
- Children who are tired, lethargic, listless may be suffering from neglect. Parents may not regulate their child’s schedule, including sleep patterns.
There are some additional indicators that have often been identified with child sexual abuse. Those include:
- Regression - withdrawing into fantasy worlds, wanting to be someone else;
- Sexual promiscuity, prostitution and unusually seductive behavior;
- Poor self-image;
- Poor peer relationships;
- Sudden school problems;
- Sudden eating and/or sleeping problems;
- Excessive clinging and/or fear of going home or fear of a particular person;
- Unusual fears or phobias, especially of being left alone and of men/boys;
- Self-destructive behavior (drugs, alcohol, suicidal gestures); Excessive or unusual rubbing of genitals (their own or others’)
- Familiarity with sexual terms and activity beyond the child’s age and level of development;
- Excessive and/or inappropriate physical contact with other children or adults;
- Confiding in someone, but not telling the whole story (“We have a secret, but I can’t tell” or “What if I want to tell you something but I can’t?”);
- Running away --Every child who runs away should be asked if they are being sexually abused.
Alaska has one of the highest child abuse rates in the NATION.
Every 33 minutes, one child in Alaska is reported a victim of child abuse/neglect.
Approximately 80% of all child abuse is perpetrated by parents.
During 2010 there was a total of 4,655 substantiated allegations of child abuse/neglect involving 2,871 children.
Of the 4,655 allegations statewide, 661 were from our region, involving 390 children from our region.
In Alaska during the month of June 2011 there were 2,819 allegations of child abuse/neglect involving 1,644 children and 1,353 perpetrators.
From those allegations there were 1,177 reports filed for protective services.
As of June 1, 2011 there were 1,872 children placed outside of their home; 312 of which are from our region.
Regional Services/Statewide and National Resources
Office of Children's Services
P.O. Box 910
Nome, AK 99762
Alaska State Troopers...................... 443-2441
CALL 911 IF LIFE THREATENING
Bering Sea Women's Group (Nome)..................443-5491; Fax: 443-3748
Provides shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence; crisis telephone; community education about domestic violence and sexual assault; village outreach and education; supervision of safe homes in villages.
Director Samaria Ross
P.O. Box 1596
SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) ......... 907-443-3311 at Norton Sound Regional Hospital.
The team attempts to be the assessment team for any victim regionally of sexual abuse/assault.
Kawerak Children & Family Services.............. 1-800-478-5153 Fax: 443-4457
Vice President- Joel Craft Jr. cfs.vp@Kawerak.org
Local ICWA Tribal Family Coordinator in Brevig Mission, Golovin, Mary's Igloo & Teller, Shishmaref, Wales, King Island, White Mountain, Elim, Koyuk, Shaktoolik, Stebbins, St. Michael, Unalakleet. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nome Community Center ..................443-5259
Executive Director: David G. Elmore
P. O. Box 98
Kawerak Child Advocacy Center................................443 4376, Fax -443 4474
Program Director - Michelle Krier
Outreach Educator - Phyllis Walluk
Front St. Old Federal Bldg.
P.O. Box 948
Nome, AK 99762
Norton Sound Behavioral Health ..................................443-3344
P.O. Box 966
Regional Health Corporation - Norton Sound Health Corp........ 907-443-3311 , Fax 907-443-3139
P.O. Box 966, Nome, AK 99762
Nome Youth Court.......................... 443-5888
Fawn White, Coordinator
P.O. Box 98
Provides court ordered services for youth, programs to promote healthy life styles, administers the Nome Youth Court.
- RID Alaska - A non-profit agency providing folks throughout Alaska with information about child abuse, prevention and resources.
- Childhelp - National Child Abuse Hotline................ 1-800-422-4453
Anonymous help line. Call if you would like to talk to someone about child abuse and you can get resources.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway - For publications on child abuse and it's prevention call 1-800-FYI-3366