In cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, certain persons are required by law to immediately report the information to a county department, local law enforcement agency, or child abuse reporting hotline system. This should only be done when one has facts, reasonable suspicions, or has been given information from a child as intentionally making a false report can be punishable by law.
Mandatory Reporters are professionals who are legally required to report suspected or known cases of child abuse and neglect to proper channels. Professions defined by the C.R.S. 19-3-304 are required to make such reports. Such people can include but are not limited to doctors, dentists, counselors, teachers, clergy, coaches, etc. For a comprehensive list consult the C.R.S.19-3-304 for a complete list of mandatory reporters. These people function to protect the vulnerable children under their care or within their contact. Child abuse is defined as suspected abuse or negligence, including sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse. Additionally, observing a child within compromising circumstances or conditions is reason enough to make a report. These laws are the one time it is acceptable to break onfidently laws within physician and counseling practices.
Ethical Reasons to Make a Report
If you are someone classified as a mandatory reporter, beyond the scope of the law, there are many ethical reasons in which to make a report. You have the chance to ensure safety for a vulnerable child and his or her siblings within an abusive situation. Due to your report, you may even protect other innocent children that the abuser may be in contact with. Additionally, your report assists families in getting the help they need, which often leads to counseling, skills training and healthier families. Stopping the cycle of abuse is crucial to preventing the cycle from perpetuating throughout future generations.
Some mandatory reporters may be afraid to report, fearing that if the claims do not prove substantial, they could get into legal trouble. In cases where you have reasonable evidence to believe a child is in danger, always make the call! You don’t want to be the reason a child is later found dead. It’s always better to err or the side of caution. A mandatory reporter is protected by the law in cases where there is known or reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect. Unless, a reporter simply makes up allegations for malicious reasons, they will not be in any legal trouble whether or not the allegations go anywhere.
Colorado children need the adults in their lives to look at for their best interests. It is imperative to always report suspected child abuse to protect your state’s children. If you find yourself being accused of child abuse/negligence claims be sure to hire a skilled criminal law attorney to represent your case.