What is Child Abuse?  Neglect? Warning signs?
Child Abuse
Child Abuse and Neglect
Maryland state law and University policy require all adults to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
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Introduction

Under Maryland Law, all adults in the State have an obligation to report suspected child abuse and neglect. However, the reporting requirements for members of the USM community are different, depending upon whether they are "professional employees."

As an employee of the University of Maryland, you are strongly encouraged to notify your supervisor or unit head or the President's Designee if during the course of your duties you suspect or have "reason to believe" that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect (V-1.50 (A) Policy on the Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect).

This policy is in place to protect vulnerable children who are not in a position to protect or advocate for themselves. Reporting abuse or neglect may be the only link to ending an abusive situation or to providing services or an intervention for a family in need of help. Reporting also serves to prevent further harm to an abused child or other vulnerable children under the care or supervision of an abusive adult.

Please note that medical and mental health professionals are considered “mandated reporters” of child abuse by law and are exempt from reporting past abuse to the Chief of Police when providing counseling, psychotherapy, and referral services except for the following:

a. If a medical or mental health professional is an actual witness to an act of child abuse ​ or neglect or has reason to believe a minor child has been subjected to​ abuse or neglect;
 
b. If there is any allegation of past or current abuse that occurred or is occurring on University property or if the abuse if perpetrated by any
person affiliated with the University or University System of Maryland.    

What is Child Abuse and Child Neglect?

   

What Is Child Abuse?

Abuse is defined in Maryland law as "the physical or mental injury of a child by any 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, under circumstances that indicate 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. Sexual abuse is 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."

What Is Child Neglect?

Under Maryland law, Neglect is defined as the failure to give proper care and attention to a child, including leaving the child unattended, by a parent or other person who has custody or responsibility for the care or supervision of the child under circumstances indicating:

  • that 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.

 

What Are The Warning Signs Of Abuse?

 

Physical Indicators Sexual Indictors Neglect
  • Physically injurious behavior beyond physical discipline
  • Unexplained bruises; or a patter of bruises
  • Cuts and burns (cigarette, liquid) to the body
  • Rope marks or burns
  • Fractures/broken bones
  • Welts, abrasions
  • Bite marks or puncture wounds
  • Chipped teeth
  • Difficulty or painful walking
  • Injury or reported pain or itching in genital area
  • Expressions of sexual knowledge or behavior inappropriate for age
  • Verbalization of sexual involvement or victimization of other children
  • Sexually suggestive behavior
  • Pregnancy under 12 years of age
  • Dirty, unkempt
  • Untreated serious medical problems
  • Obvious malnourishment
  • Listlessness, fatigue
  • Child left unattended or without supervision
  • Inadequate clothing for weather

Reporting Requirements

Why is reporting necessary?

Contributing to the safety and welfare of children is a community responsibility. While many may be resistant to reporting because they do not want to get involved in the personal affairs of others, your actions are essential in providing assistance and support to abused or neglected children and families. Reporting aids in preventing further harm to an abused or neglected child and protects other vulnerable children. Your identity is protected when reporting to Child Protective Services, unless you are in a professional capacity.

When Do I Report?

If you are an actual witness to an act of child abuse or neglect, you must call 911 and ask for an officer immediately. If you have reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, you must also notify your supervisor and the University’s Chief of Police.

You are obligated to report when you suspect or have "reason to believe" a child (under the age of 18) has been harmed or at risk of being harmed. This applies to those over the age of 18 who reveal that as a child they were physically, sexually or mentally abused by a parent/caretaker/household member or a person who had permanent or temporary care or custody (babysitter, teacher, counselor, pastor, etc.).

How do I know if I have sufficient information to report child abuse or neglect? Sometimes information may be quite vague, and it is not clear whether to report.

The purpose of a report is to give Child Protective Services and the police information that will enable them to begin an investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect. These authorities need information sufficient to identify the child and decide whether the incident may constitute child abuse or neglect under the law. If you are not sure, consult with Child Protective Services, the University Police, the University Counseling Center or University Health Center.

To whom do I report?

You are required to notify your supervisor, unit head or the University's Chief of Police, if during the course of your duties you suspect or have "reason to believe" that a child has been subjected to child abuse. You should report immediately and within forty-eight (48) hours of learning about child abuse or neglect to:

  • The Chief of Police who serves as the President’s Designee (301)405-3555.
  • Supervisor or unit head if required by the department.
  • Child Protective Services (CPS) in the locality where the abuse took place.

  
What do I report?

According to child protective services, the information they need includes the following:

  • The name of the victim.
  • Information that will allow CPS or the police to determine whether the incident constituted child abuse or neglect under the law, including:
    • Age of the victim when the incident occurred
    • The identity (name) of the alleged perpetrator and the relationship to the child (parent, household or family member, or other person who had care, custody or supervision of the child when the maltreatment occurred)
    • Details related to the alleged abuse or maltreatment. Information pertaining to whether the child was injured, harmed or at substantial risk of harm as a result of the alleged maltreatment.
  • You are only required to report information that is either witnessed, disclosed, or which is obtained as part of your regular responsibilities (part of a conversation in which maltreatment is disclosed).
  • You should not initiate your own investigation of the alleged maltreatment; this is restricted to the professional within CPS and the Department of Public Safety.
  • You are not expected or encouraged to interview the child to acquire more information. Therefore, in some cases, the information you have will be incomplete. Simply report the information that you have available.

   
Can I report without revealing my identity?

While you are encouraged to provide your name when making a report, you have the right to report without providing your name. Individuals who make reports are encouraged to give their names and contact information to the person taking the report so that additional information may be obtained at a later date if necessary. Generally, the name of the person who makes a report concerning abuse or maltreatment is kept in strict confidence and is not given to the victim or other individuals involved. The name of the reporter may only be revealed under court order.

Where do I report?

If you have reason to believe child abuse or neglect has occurred during the course of your duties or responsibilities, you are required to report this information to your supervisor or Department Head immediately. Your supervisor/Department Head will assist you with the reporting procedures which may include contacting the President's Designee, Chief of Police and/or Child Protective Services of Prince George's County.

 

Staff Tutorial

Take the quiz

 

Staff Tutorial Videos

Video 1 length: 32:29
Introductions: John Zacker, Assistant Vice President, Division of Student Affairs, University of Maryland
Speaker: Gisele Ferretto, MSW, LCSW-C University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Social Work
Presentation slides: 6-13


 

Video 2 length: 24:33
Speaker: Stephen Berry, MSW, LCSW-C, MD Dept of Human Resources, Social Services Administration
Presentation slides: 14-22


 

Video 3 length: 2:26
Speaker: John Zacker


 

Video 4 length: 8:52
Speaker: Laura Anderson Wright - University Council, Office of Legal Affairs, University of Maryland


 

Video 5 length: 11:08
Speaker: David Mitchell- Director, Public Safety, University of Maryland


 

Video 6 length: 7:27
Speaker: John Zacker
Presentation slides: 24-27


 

Video 7 length: 16:44
Speaker: Sharon Kirkland-Gordon, Director, University Counseling Center, University of Maryland
Presentation slides: 29-37

 

Divisional Requirements

Witness child abuse or neglect in progress

  • Call police and request an officer immediately – employee’s supervisor may assist with procedures, but DO NOT DELAY
  • Notify department director or departmental CAN designee (Department director/CAN designee provide notice to OVPSA)
  • Submit written report using USM form to Child Protective Services – department director or departmental CAN designee may assist
  • Send copy of report to Chief of Police

Reason to believe child has been subjected to abuse or neglect

  • Notify Chief of Police, President’s designee
    • Immediate supervisor may assist with procedures, but DO NOT DELAY
    • If questions about "reason to believe" consult with Chief of Police or contact Child Protective Services
  • Notify department director or departmental CAN designee (Department director/CAN designee provide notice to OVPSA)
  • Submit written report using USM form to Child Protective Services (department director or departmental CAN designee may assist)
  • Send copy of report to Chief of Police

Concern about past abuse or neglect disclosed by adult victim

  • Notify Chief of Police, President's designee
    • Immediate supervisor may assist with procedures, but DO NOT DELAY
    • If questions about "past abuse" reporting requirements, consult with Chief of Police or contact Child Protective Services
  • Notify department director or departmental CAN designee (department director/CAN designee provide notice to OVPSA)
  • Submit written report using USM form to Child Protective Services (department director or departmental CAN designee may assist)
  • Send copy of report to Chief of Police