What constitutes child abuse or neglect?
The physical or mental injury of a child by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child, or by any household or family member, under circumstances indicating that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; or Sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not, defined as any act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a child by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by any household or family member.
The failure to give proper care and attention to a child, including leaving the child unattended, by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child under circumstances indicating: the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm or mental injury to the child or a substantial risk of mental injury.
The observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
Notably, these definitions include abuse/neglect by persons who have permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child, broadening the traditional stereotype many have of abuse/neglect by a parent.
Who is required to report?
Every member of the UMBC community has an obligation to report child abuse or neglect to the police or the Department of Social Services/Child Protective Services.
Mandatory reporters, under Maryland law, are health practitioners, police officers, and educators and human service workers. The law defines an educator as any professional employee of any correctional, public, parochial, or private educational, health juvenile service, social service agency, institution, or licensed facility. (Maryland Code, Family Law, Section 5-701).
Mandatory reporters, under the USM Policy, are all members of the UMBC community, including Professional Employees, other staff, students, and contractors on campus. The USM Policy defines Professional Employee as a person employed as a faculty member, administrator, coach, or an employee who provides academic support, student service, or institutional support activities, whose duties require either a college degree or comparable experience. The mandatory reporting requirements are slightly different for (1) a Professional Employee, and (2) other staff, students, and contractors on campus.
When should a campus member report child abuse or neglect?
Suspicions of child abuse and/or neglect must be reported immediately when you first suspect physical, mental and/or sexual abuse or neglect has occurred to a child, whether the victim is still a child (under the age of 18 years) or not.
Notably, you must report abuse/neglect that occurred during the childhood even if the person is now an adult. This reporting requirement furthers the efforts to protect others from being victimized by the same person. The report must be filed even if the suspected abuser/neglecter is thought to be dead. The safety of children is paramount and enabling authorities to confirm the death of a suspected abuser/neglecter assures that other children are not at risk from the suspect.
To whom should the child abuse/neglect be reported?
The initial report must be made to the local police department or the local department of social services, and UMBC’s designee, listed below.
UMBC’s campus police (410-455-5555) will respond to reports of suspected abuse/neglect that occurred on UMBC’s campus, and they will coordinate their response with the Baltimore County Police Department or other local police department.
NOTE: For policy purposes, the “local department of social services” is the jurisdiction where the child resides, where the abuse/neglect occurred, or, if neither is known, Baltimore County.
UMBC President’s Designee for USM Policy on the Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect
Click here for information in other Maryland counties and states.
What should be reported?
To the extent that it is known:
– The name age and home address of the child,
– The name and home address of the parent or other person responsible for the care of the child,
– The child’s whereabouts,
– The nature and extent of the suspected abuse or neglect, including any information regarding possible previous instances of abuse or neglect, and
– Any other information that may help to identify the person responsible for the abuse or neglect or determine the cause.
What are the reporting obligations under the child abuse and neglect reporting law and policy?
UMBC Professional Employees (faculty members, administrators, health practitioners, advisors, coaches, police officers and other employees fitting within the USM definition above) have mandatory reporting obligations if, while acting in a professional capacity, they have reason to believe that a child has been subject to abuse or neglect.
The USM Policy requires the Professional Employee to make an oral report as immediately as is practical but not later than 48 hours from the event, and a written report within 48 hours of the event.
The oral and written report must go to (1) the local police department or department of social services and (2) the UMBC President’s Designee. Other UMBC community members, including other staff, students, and contractors on the UMBC campus, also have the mandatory reporting obligation if they suspect child abuse or neglect.
However, the slight difference is that the report, to the local police department or social services department, may be either oral or written (doesn’t have to be both) and must be filed with the UMBC President’s Designee only if (1) the abuse/neglect involves a current or former employee or volunteer of USM, (2) the abuse/neglect took place while the victim was a UMBC student, or (3) the abuse/neglect occurred in UMBC facilities or on UMBC property or in connection with a UMBC-sponsored, recognized, or approved program, visit, activity, or camp (regardless of the location).
How can I advise the adult victim of my mandatory reporting obligations to reduce their surprise if I am required to report child abuse or neglect ?
OEI recommends that faculty inform students in advance including through recommended syllabus language, about the USM Policy, Maryland law, and mandatory reporting.
If someone reports something to you that you believe you may be required to report, you can let them know you have to make a report, but are not required to do so.
Community members must be mindful that the reporting process allows for an independent, confidential review of the report by trained professionals (Baltimore County police have a special unit that responds to reports of child abuse/neglect) and may result in a number of outcomes.
The UMBC, the Police, or the Department of Social Services will send a copy of the written report to the local State’s Attorney, if abuse/neglect is suspected. For reference, please see the Department of Social Services’ reporting form.
If you have any questions regarding the applicability of these requirements to you, please contact the Baltimore County Office of Social Services or UMBC’s President’s Designee for more information.