A mandated reporter is an adult professional who is required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the authorities at the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) or to law enforcement officials. Mandated reporters refer to those individuals who work closely with children on a regular basis, such as teachers, school administrators and staff, healthcare workers, social workers, counselors, daycare workers, and police officers.
New Jersey law requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to DCPP or law enforcement officials immediately. Mandated reporters are held to an even higher level of expectation than the average citizen. Professionals who spend the majority of their workday with children are at a unique advantage for spotting the signs of child abuse and neglect.
When to Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
Mandated reporters are legally required to report all cases of suspected child abuse and neglect, regardless whether their employer or colleagues disagree with their assessment. DCPP should be contacted when any of the following signs are present:
- Physical, emotional, or behavioral signs that abuse is taking place
- First-hand witnessing of mistreatment or threats of physical harm
- Suspicion that a child lives in a dangerous environment, such as with drug-addicted parents or known sexual predators
- Reports made to you personally about an abused or neglected child
- A child tells you that they are being subjected to severe punishment or has a lack of food or electricity in their home
- A confession from an adult that they have abused a child
It is important to note that the mandated reporter does not have to have physical or documented proof of abuse before contacting DCPP officials. Suspicion based on first hand information and observation is all that is required. There is no legal consequence when reports are made in good faith. However, mandated reporters who do not report suspected abuse or neglect face possible prosecution, jail time, and damages for any harm that becomes a child.
Signs of Child Abuse or Neglect
Mandated reporters need to be fully aware of the signs that point to possible child abuse or neglect, which include:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, lacerations, or burn injuries
- Frequent absences from school
- Poor hygiene, such as consistently dirty hair, nails, and clothing
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Stealing food or saving food for later
- Social withdraw
- Poor school performance
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Promiscuous behavior inappropriate for the child’s age
- Sexual knowledge beyond the child’s age expectation
Children who display one or several of these signs on an occasional basis may not be endangered. Busy parents can occasionally get behind on laundry or forget to pack a lunch for their child. When any of these signs appear consistently, there is a high risk that the child is suffering abuse or neglect at home.
New Jersey DCPP/DYFS Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Provide Counsel and Representation for DCPP Issues
The New Jersey DCPP/DYFS lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker provide counsel and representation on all DCPP matters. If you are a mandated reporter with questions, or a parent facing an investigation by DCPP officials, call our team of experienced DCPP lawyers at 856-795-9400, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Cherry Hill offices serve clients throughout Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and South Jersey.