Mandatory Reporting

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    I have a question / concern about the mandatory reporting issue. I know a young lady (she's 15) who is most probably being abused by her parents. They are not nice to her even when she is around others and she has multiple bruises which she attributes to them. Now this girl does have a history (not currently) of cutting and has not made any effort to hide the bruising. Last week her face was black and blue, this week her arm is all bruised up and she isn't wanting to use it (to the point it may need x-rayed). Now I know this girl through personal means and I think she and others around us would be very upset if they knew I had reported the abuse. I looked up the website for reporting suspected child abuse and it says that mandated reporters are not allowed to make annonymous reports. Since this is someone I know personally and not professionally - is it acceptable to make an annonymous report?

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  2. 13 Comments...

  3. 1
    If I truly believed that this child was or is being abused, YES I would make a complaint to Child Protective Services. Since youu are not reporting from your hospital I don't see why you couldn't make it anonymous. If she does have to be xrayed, I would think that whatever MD she sees would have to report it too.
    widi96 likes this.
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    I have to wonder why you are wanting to make an anonymous report. If there is truly something going on, you should not be afraid to report it. Anonymous reports do not always get the same attention as a report made with a signature behind it. Oftentimes CPS/APS are so busy that they don't do a super thorough investigation if the parties are able to make things look "normal". And since these parties become very adept at hiding things, it is likely that this stuff can be explained away and without a responsible party (nurse) reporting it they may be reluctant to really delve deep and find the truth. As a nurse, your word is given much more weight than a "civilian" and they will be much more willing to do more than give this case a cursory glance. Does not matter if you are not a caregiver of this person. As a human being you have the responsibility to use your influence to get this person the help they need. Hiding behind anonymity is not always the answer.
  5. 1
    You should be able to make an anonymous report. She should have other people making reports as well like her school, and other people she comes in contact with who see the same things you are seeing. Even if it seems like CPS might not be responding to you, every complaint is logged and a pattern emerges with every call. So call every time you see another bruise or any evidence of abuse. She is lucky that you are concerned for her and willing to make a report to keep her safe. It does need to be reported however, because these kids fall through the cracks when people are aware of abuse but chose not to report. It's an uncomfortable position to be in especially since you know her and she is asking you not to report. I hope she gets some help and is safe.
    Margo
    widi96 likes this.
  6. 0
    You may want to clarify what is meant by "anonymous" reporting. In all the states I've worked in over the years, the CPS people want to know who you are so they can contact you if they need more information and, in many cases, they are required to report back to you about the outcome of your report. However, they do not reveal to the suspected abusers who made the report(s) when they do their investigation. When I worked as a hospital surveyor for my state and the Feds for a number of years, we handled complaints about hospitals the same way -- we wanted as much info as we could get about the complainant (and were required/obligated by state regulation to report back to them our findings when the investigation was concluded), but we never revealed to the hospital who had made the complaint -- that was kept strictly confidential.

    Now, having said that, that doesn't mean that potential abusers (and the hospitals we investigated) couldn't possibly figure out on their own who made the report/complaint ... (Like, if the report of suspected abuse involves info that only one or two people would know). But they sure didn't hear it from CPS or from my survey team (in fact, in my agency, we used all kinds of clever tactics and ruses, "decoy" charts, etc., to do our best to keep the facility from being able to figure out who might have made the complaint).

    Also, in most states, if you are a mandated reporter as a health professional, it doesn't matter whether the information came to you through work or through personal channels -- you are still a health professional even when you're off duty. In most states, mandated reporters can be charged as accessories to the abuse if the abuse is substantiated and it becomes known that a mandated reporter knew about it but didn't report it -- that's another good reason to report "on the record." There's only a slim chance that it would ever come to that (you being charged as an accessory to the abuse), but, if it did, your saying, "You remember that anonymous call you got? That was me" wouldn't help you v. much.

    To me, it comes done to basic professional responsibility and accountability. If we want to be taken seriously as professionals, we need to be willing to be accountable for our actions and practice.
  7. 0
    This girl knows that she has a safe place to come to if she needs it - and has stayed many nights with our family. If she finds out that one of us reported it, she would feel betrayed and lose the one place she feels safe. I know it needs reported, and I will do so. But that is why I was wanting it to be kept anonymous.
  8. 1
    Here's my two cents:

    You suspect abuse, you MUST report it whether you are allowed to remain anonymous or not. If you wanted to, you could tell the patient in or out of the hospital that by law (or personal ethics) you have to (or feel the need to) report it. If she is being abused, someday (if not immediately) she will appreciate someone caring enough about her that they tried to get her help. If she is not being abused, someday she will come to realize (as we usually gain wisdom as we age) that you did the right thing based on how she was presenting.

    Even if you don't have a legal obligation to report it, you have a moral obligation to report it. As someone who was abused as a child, I always wished that someone had cared enough about me to report my parents to the appropriate authorities. Sometimes I feel a bit resentful of those who did not report it. Please do what you already know in your heart is the right thing to do. If you lose the friendship with the parents or child, at least you go to bed each night knowing you did the absolute right thing! :icon_hug:
    husker_rn likes this.
  9. 1
    If I knew her on a personal basis I would have a talk with her and ask if she wanted to stay in the situation she was in or if she would want you to try to see she was removed from the home. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to stay in an abusive situation but CPS isn't always the answer. In fact, a lot of times they can and do make things much worse.
    widi96 likes this.
  10. 0
    I don't even know this girls parents and as I have said - I will report it. My question was relating to the fact that as a 'mandatory reporter' we are not allowed to stay anonymous - I didn't know if that was required when it was someone known personally, not professionally. I'm not sure I they can even do anything with the information I have, but I will tell them what I know. I know the girl's name, age, the city she lives in and where she goes to school. I do not know her parents names, her address or anything else.
  11. 0
    Quote from widi96
    I have a question / concern about the mandatory reporting issue. I know a young lady (she's 15) who is most probably being abused by her parents. They are not nice to her even when she is around others and she has multiple bruises which she attributes to them. Now this girl does have a history (not currently) of cutting and has not made any effort to hide the bruising. Last week her face was black and blue, this week her arm is all bruised up and she isn't wanting to use it (to the point it may need x-rayed). Now I know this girl through personal means and I think she and others around us would be very upset if they knew I had reported the abuse. I looked up the website for reporting suspected child abuse and it says that mandated reporters are not allowed to make annonymous reports. Since this is someone I know personally and not professionally - is it acceptable to make an annonymous report?
    The question is...regardless if it's mandatory reporting or not, can you live with yourself knowing that you KNOW this girl is being abused, clearly needing help, and ignoring it?

    I wouldn't have an issue of reporting it, and them knowing it was me.

    Have you thought that her abuse is so severe that it's the reason why she is cutting herself?


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