How Nannies Should Report Child Abuse or Mistreatment

Have You Ever Suspected a Child You Knew Was Being Abused, Neglected, or Mistreated?

Our New Year’s Resolution for nannies is to Be the One to protect children. If you suspect a child (any child) may be abused or neglected, nannies should discuss their concerns with a the children’s teacher, doctor, and law enforcement for support from professionals that can assess the situation. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.

In some States, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. To see how your State addresses this issue, read the Information Gateway publication, Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Childhelp® is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. The organization is staffed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).

Here are the general definitions of child abuse by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Physical abuse is physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child.

Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:

Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)3
Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)

Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caregiver such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

Abandonment is now defined in many States as a form of neglect. In general, a child is considered to be abandoned when the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left alone in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.

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