Human Resources

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Protection of Minors Policy Q&A

WHO IS A MANDATED REPORTER?

The following individuals are considered mandated reporters of suspected child abuse:

  • All Ursinus College employees. 
  • Volunteers and independent contractors who have direct contact with minors.   
  • Student employees and student volunteers who have direct contact with minors.

Direct contact with minors includes the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.

If you are unsure whether you are a mandated reporter, the Protection of Minors Policy provides additional information.  You may also contact the College’s General Counsel with questions about your role or obligations.

WHEN MUST A MANDATED REPORTER MAKE A REPORT?

A mandated reporter must immediately report suspected child abuse if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse under any of the following circumstances:

  • The mandated reporter comes into contact with the child in the course of employment, occupation and practice of a profession or through a regularly scheduled program, activity or service.
  • The mandated reporter is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child, or is affiliated with an agency, institution, organization, school, regularly established church or religious organization or other entity that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child.
  • A person makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of child abuse.
  • An individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that the individual has committed child abuse.

If you are unsure whether these circumstances apply, you are encouraged to err on the side of reporting.  You may also contact the College’s General Counsel if you have questions about your role or reporting obligations.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE?

Reasonable cause may be based on the employee/student’s own observations or knowledge, or on information shared with the employee/student by the child or any other individual.  

Reasonable cause to suspect is a very low threshold.  It does not require proof or actual evidence, and the employee/student should not seek to investigate the information.  

Reasonable cause may exist regardless of whether the date of abuse, the specific nature of the act, or the identity of the perpetrator is known.  

When in doubt about whether to make a report, the employee/student should err on the side of reporting the conduct of concern. 

WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE? 

Pennsylvania law defines child abuse broadly to include intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, through action or inaction: 

  • causing or creating a likelihood of bodily injury (within the past two years);
  • causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury (regardless of how long ago the act occurred);
  • causing or creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation (regardless of how long ago the act occurred);
  • causing the death of a child (regardless of how long ago the act occurred);
  • causing serious physical neglect (repeated, prolonged or egregious failure to supervise a child in a matter consistent with the child’s age and abilities, or the failure to provide a child with adequate essentials, including food, shelter or medical care) (regardless of how long ago the act or inaction occurred); and,
  • fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child (within the past two years).

Child abuse also includes the following acts, if committed within two years of the date of the report, even if they do not result in injury: 

  • kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a child in a matter that endangers the child;
  • unreasonably restraining or confining a child;
  • forcefully shaking, slapping or striking a child under one year of age;
  • interfering with the breathing of a child;
  • leaving a child unsupervised with a registered sex offender or a sexually violent predator;
  • causing a child to be present during the operation of a methamphetamine laboratory.

MUST I REPORT SUSPECTED ABUSE IF I LEARN OF THE ABUSE FROM SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE CHILD WHO WAS ALLEGEDLY ABUSED?

Yes. Nothing requires the mandated reporter to learn about the suspected abuse directly from the child in order to make a report.

HOW DOES A MANDATED REPORTER MAKE A REPORT IF THEY SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE?

Mandated reporters must make an immediate and direct report of suspected child abuse.

  • Within 48 hours of the verbal report, a written report must be submitted to the investigating agency. If the child abuse report is filed electronically in Pennsylvania, this step is not required.

If a child is in imminent danger or the abuse is in progress, call 9-1-1 and report the circumstances immediately to law enforcement, and then follow the reporting steps listed above.

DO I NEED TO NOTIFY ANYONE AT URSINUS COLLEGE AFTER I MAKE A REPORT?

Yes. After reporting to the local child abuse hotline, call Ursinus College’s Title IX Coordinator at 610.409.3590.

WHAT IF A MANDATED REPORTER FAILS TO MAKE A REPORT?

Under Pennsylvania law, the penalties for a mandated reporter who willfully fails to report child abuse range from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony of the second degree.

WHAT STUDENT EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE?

Student employees and student volunteers of Ursinus College are required to report suspected child abuse, when in the course of their work as a student employee or volunteer, they have direct contact with minors.  Direct contact with minors includes the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.  Such student employees or volunteers may include:  coaches, tutors, after-school program coordinators, and camp counselors.

Student employees or volunteers who do not have direct contact with minors are still encouraged to report suspected child abuse.  This may include, for example, students or volunteers who work in the cafeteria, campus store, library, or maintenance staff. 

CAN YOU REPORT SUSPECTED ABUSE IF YOU ARE NOT A MANDATED REPORTER?

Yes. Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a child can make a report of suspected child abuse to the local child abuse hotline.  We encourage everyone, even if not a mandated reporter, to report suspected child abuse.

Even if persons are not deemed to be mandated reporters under the law, all persons with suspicion or knowledge of child abuse are strongly encouraged to make a voluntary report of such suspected or actual child abuse in the manner described above.

AM I PROTECTED FROM CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY IF I MAKE A REPORT OF SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE?

Yes. Persons making a report of suspected child abuse are immune from civil and criminal liability as long as the report was made in good faith.

IF I MAKE A REPORT IS MY IDENTITY PROTECTED?

The identity of the person making the report is kept confidential, although it may be shared with law enforcement officials or the district attorney’s office.

HOW DO I RESPOND TO A CHILD WHO DISCLOSES ABUSE DIRECTLY?

Reassure the child and thank them for sharing.  Be as neutral and empathetic as possible and reassure that the child that they done the right thing by sharing.  Do not panic or overreact to the information disclosed by the child, criticize the child, suggest that the child misunderstood what happened, or reinforce a child’s belief that they are to blame for what happened. 

PROTECTION OF MINORS POLICY

The Protection of Minors Policy provides requirements, guidelines and procedures, in accordance with all applicable state laws, for the protection and supervision of minors who attend the College and/or who participate in any applicable College-sponsored programs.

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