Do You Suspect Child Abuse?
Report Suspected Abuse
If you have a reasonable basis to believe that a student is a victim of child abuse, Oregon law (ORS 419B.015) requires you to report your suspicions of abuse or neglect via "an oral report by telephone or otherwise to the local office of the Department of Human Services child welfare or to a law enforcement agency within the county where the person making the report is at the time of contact." A law enforcement agency is defined as a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police. Oregon educators are required to report suspected abuse or neglect under Oregon's mandatory reporting law (ORS 419B.010). Failure to report suspected abuse of any unmarried child under the age of 18 can result in a hefty fine.
Reporting your suspicions to your building principal, Superintendent, or any other member of the school administration does not satisfy your obligation under Oregon law - even if the school administrator tells you they will take care of it for you. Report the abuse to the appropriate authority; then tell your building principal or other district administrators.
If you report suspected abuse, your identity will remain confidential to the full extent allowable by law. If court action is ultimately initiated, you may be called as a witness or the court may order your name be disclosed. Only people with firsthand knowledge of the child's situation can provide testimony providing that abuse has occurred.
Oregon law (ORS 419B.025) provides that anyone who reports child abuse in good faith, and who has reasonable grounds for making the report, is immune from any liability, civil or criminal. If you participate in any judicial proceeding resulting from your report, you have the same immunity.
Signs of Possible Abuse
- Bruises, welts, black eyes, burns, frequent injuries
- Reluctance to sit down; possibly cannot hold a pencil
- Reluctance to change clothes for physical education
- Wearing long sleeves in hot weather
- Complaints of pain without obvious injury
- Evidence of poor self-concept
- Frequent absences or tardiness without reasonable explanations
- Emotional neediness
- Afraid to go home
- Aggressive, disruptive, destructive behavior
- Passive, withdrawn, fearful of other students
- Frightened of parents or wary of other adults
- Manipulative or distrustful attitude
- Chronic running away, especially in adolescents
- Lack of expression of anger or pain; absence of joy
- Complaints of beating or other harsh treatment
- Apprehensive when other students cry
- Indirect allusion to problems at home, for example, "I want to live with you."
- Unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual matters, expressing affection in ways inappropriate for a student of that age
- Habit disorders (biting, rocking)