Research shows that the negative effects of childhood abuse can last well into adulthood. However, the sooner the abuse comes to an end, the better the chances for victims to heal physically and mentally, and go on to have healthy, happy lives.
Because children in abusive situations are often too scared or ashamed to seek help, they may need a trusted adult to step in and prompt an investigation that ensures their safety. Though anyone can report suspected or disclosed child abuse to the authorities, some people are legally bound to do so. Shirking the responsibility to report child abuse can have serious consequences. Not only does it leave abused children in dangerous situations, but also mandated reporters can potentially be held liable for subsequent injuries the child sustained.
What Is Child Abuse?
Children can be subjected to a number of different types of abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional; neglect or abandonment; and sex trafficking. Missouri further defines abuse as injuries inflicted on a child purposely “other than by accidental means.”
What Are Mandated Reporters and Who Are They?
People in certain professional who regularly work with children may be considered “mandated reporters.” These individuals have a legal obligation to report suspected or disclosed child abuse to the authorities, ideally preventing child abuse or stopping it at an early stage.
Examples of mandated reporters include:
- Principals or other school officials
- Clinic or hospital personnel
- Daycare or child-care workers
- Police, probation, or parole officers
- Community service program personnel or volunteers
- Other people responsible for caring for children
Reporting Child Abuse in Kansas and Missouri
Both Kansas and Missouri have similar child abuse reporting procedures. The report must first be made orally by calling the Kansas Protection Report Center or Missouri's Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline. A written follow-up may also be requested.
Reports of suspected or disclosed abuse should include:
- The child's name, the names of their parents, guardians, or whoever is currently responsible for their care, and address
- The child's current location
- The nature, extent, and condition of the child's injuries
- Information regarding the suspected perpetrator's access to the child
- Any other information the reporter believes shows why the child is in danger
Consequences for Failing to Report Child Abuse
Some people may be hesitant to cast a shadow on a person's life with an allegation of abuse. However, when it involves the care and safety of children, it's best to err on the side of caution. Mandated reporters who fail to report suspected or disclosed abuse can face serious legal consequences.
- Kansas: In Kansas, failing to report suspected child abuse is a Class B Misdemeanor that can carry a fine of $1,000 or up to six months in jail.
- Missouri: In Missouri, failure to report child abuse is a Class A misdemeanor. Guilty parties may face fines of up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail—or both.
Mandated reporters may also be subject to civil liability for injuries a child sustained after they failed to report the abuse.
Consult an Experienced Child Abuse Attorney
If your child was the victim of abuse and a mandated reporter turned a blind eye, thus allowing the abuse to continue, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries your child suffered as a result of the reporter's inaction. The attorneys with DRZ Law specialize in this legal area. They can review your family's case, and provide an overview of your rights and options.
Our attorneys represent child abuse victims in Missouri, Kansas, and throughout the country. Do you have questions about a child abuse case involving the failure to report? Contact DRZ Law today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.