Staff are expected to report every instance of suspected child abuse or neglect. Since protection of children is the paramount concern, staff should discuss any suspected evidence with the principal, nurse, counselor or social worker regardless of whether the condition is listed among the indicators of abuse or neglect.
Staff are reminded of their obligation as district employees to report suspected child abuse, and professional staff are reminded of their legal obligation to make such reports. Staff are also reminded of their immunity from potential liability for doing so. The following procedures are to be used in reporting instances of suspected child abuse:
A. Professional school personnel (teachers, counselors, administrator, child care facility personnel and school nurses) who have reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect must report or cause a report to be made, to the proper law enforcement agency or to Child Protective Services (CPS). In no case should the reports be made more than forty-eight (48) hours after the finding of possible abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Professional School Personnel shall also advise the principal or designee regarding instances of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and reports of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation to state authorities. In his/her absence, the report shall be made to the principal's designee.
An employee may wish to discuss the circumstances with an employee of CPS for assistance in determining if a report should be made. CPS has the responsibility of determining the fact of child abuse or neglect. Any doubt about the child’s condition shall be resolved in favor of making the report.
B. When any person, in his or her official supervisory capacity with a nonprofit or for-profit organization, has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect caused by a person over whom he or she regularly exercises supervisory authority, he or she shall report such incident, or cause a report to be made, to the proper law enforcement agency, provided that the person alleged to have caused the abuse or neglect is employed by, contracted by, or volunteers with the organization and coaches, trains, educates, or counsels a child or children or regularly has unsupervised access to a child or children as part of the employment, contract, or voluntary service.
C. Anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect may report the suspected abuse or neglect to CPS or law enforcement.
A written report shall be kept in a confidential file at the school and in the district central confidential files. A report will be submitted to the agency to which the phone report was made. The report shall include:
1. The name, address and age of the child;
2. The name and address of the parent or person having custody of the child;
3. The nature and extent of the suspected abuse or neglect;
4. Any evidence of previous abuse or any other information that may relate to the cause or extent of the abuse or neglect;
5. The identity, if known, of the person accused of inflicting the abuse; and
6. The CPS intake worker’s name and the case worker’s name.
In case of physical injury, photographs are encouraged as documentation, when possible:
a) Obtain student permission, if possible
b) Do not take pictures of uncovered genitalia
c) A second person as witness is required
d) Digital camera is preferred
Washington law also allows the CPS worker to take photographs of a child for the purpose of documenting the physical condition of the child (RCW 26.44.050).
Sharing of records and information with CPS and Law Enforcement:
In conducting an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect, the DSHS department or law enforcement agency shall have access to all relevant records of the child in the possession of mandated reporters and their employees.
Physical Abuse Indicators:
A. Bilateral bruises, extensive bruises, bruises of different ages, patterns of bruises caused by a particular instrument (belt buckle, wire, straight edge, coat hanger, etc.)
B. Burn patterns consistent with forced immersion in a hot liquid (a distinct boundary line where the burn stops), burn patterns consistent with a spattering by hot liquids, patterns caused by a particular kind of implement (electric iron, etc.) or instrument (circular cigarette burns, etc.)
C. Lacerations, welts, abrasions.
D. Injuries inconsistent with information offered by the child.
E. Injuries inconsistent with the child’s age.
F. Injuries that regularly appear after absence or vacation.
Emotional Abuse Indicators:
A. Lags on physical development.
B. Extreme behavior disorder.
C. Fearfulness of adults or authority figures.
D. Revelations of highly inappropriate adult behavior, i.e., being enclosed in a dark closet, forced to drink or eat inedible items.
Sexual Abuse Indicators:
Sexual abuse, whether physical injuries are sustained or not, is any act or acts involving sexual molestation or exploitation, including but not limited to incest, rape, carnal knowledge, sodomy or unnatural or perverted sexual practices. Indicators include:
A. Child having difficulty sitting down.
B. Child refusing to change into gym clothes (when he/she has been willing to change clothes in the past.)
C. Venereal disease in a child of any age.
D. Evidence of physical trauma or bleeding to the oral, genital or anal areas.
E. Child running away from home and not giving any specific complaint about what is wrong
F. Pregnancy at 11 or 12, especially with no history of peer socialization.
A. Lack of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter).
B. Inadequate supervision (unattended).
C. Lack of essential health care and high incidence of illness.
D. Poor hygiene on a regular basis.
E. Inappropriate clothing in inclement weather.
Some Behavioral Indicators of Abuse:
A. Wary of adult contact.
B. Frightened of parents.
C. Afraid to go home
D. Habitually truant or late to school.
E. Arrives at school early and remains after school later than other students.
F. Wary of physical contact by adults.
G. Shows evidence of overall poor care.
H. Parents describe child as “difficult” or “bad.”
I. Inappropriately dressed for the weather – no coat or shoes in cold weather or long sleeves and high necklines in hot weather (possibly hiding marks of abuse).
J. Exhibit behavioral extremes: crying often or never, unusually aggressive or withdrawn and fearful.
NOTE: Behavioral indicators in and of themselves do not prove abuse has occurred. Together with other indicators they may warrant a referral.
Interviews of Suspected Abused or Neglected Child
If a Law Enforcement or Child Protective Services official is investigating an allegation of abuse or neglect of a student, the interviews may be conducted on school premises, at day-care facilities, at the child's home, or at other suitable locations outside of the presence of parents. Parental notification of the interview must occur at the earliest possible point in the investigation that will not jeopardize the safety or protection of the child or the course of the investigation. Prior to commencing the interview the department or law enforcement agency shall determine whether the child wishes a third party to be present for the interview and, if so, shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the child's wishes. Unless the child objects, the department or law enforcement agency shall make reasonable efforts to include a third party in any interview so long as the presence of the third party will not jeopardize the course of the investigation. District staff as the third party during the interview if the child wishes and they will make sure that staff is available and will not interfere or jeopardize the course of investigation.
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Superintendent: August 1985
Revised by the Superintendent: 5.90, 5.11, 6.14, 9.19