Penn State - Administrative
To provide guidance to University employees, regarding mandated reporting requirements, per the University and the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.
- Child abuse - is defined in Pennsylvania as a child under 18 years of age who has experienced:
- Serious Physical Injury: must cause the child severe pain or it must significantly impair functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
- Serious Mental Injury: a condition diagnosed by a physician or licensed psychologist that renders the child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or in reasonable fear that his/her safety is threatened, or seriously interferes with the child’s ability to accomplish age-appropriate developmental and social tasks.
- Sexual Abuse or Exploitation: the use or coercion of any child to engage in any sexually explicit conduct, or any simulation of any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction, or the rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, prostitution, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation of children.
- Serious Physical Neglect: any condition that arises from prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.
- Imminent Risk: any act, or failure to act, that creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury or sexual abuse and exploitation of a child. (23 Pa.C.S. 6303)
Pennsylvania law requires certain individuals to report child abuse, whenever they have reasonable suspicion of child abuse. However, ANY person may report abuse if they have reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused.
Pennsylvania law requires the following individuals to make a report about the suspected child abuse:
>Penn State University requires all University employees who have reasonable suspicion of abuse to make a report, with an exception to any confidential communications made to a University-employed attorney, or confidential communication made to University-employed member of the clergy. The Penn State Hershey Medical Center campus (including the College of Medicine), the client representation clinics of the Dickinson School of Law, the Psychological Clinic, and University Health Services will follow separate policies that reflect their unique activities.
As Penn State University is committed to research, Penn State policy (RA14) provides for ethical treatment and protection of human research participants. All human subjects research is safeguarded by the Institutional Review Board. The research environment presents unique circumstances related to reporting of child abuse, and reporting procedures must be reviewed, approved, and monitored by the IRB. The Principal Investigator is responsible for all aspects of the research, including reporting any child abuse identified through the research.
How to make a report of suspected child abuse:
- If you suspect child abuse, immediately contact ChildLine, which is operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare at 1-800-932-0313. This hotline is staffed at all times of day and night. If the call is not answered, then immediately contact the county child welfare agency in the county in which the incident occurred. If you do not reach an individual either through ChildLine or through the local county child welfare office, the reporter must continue calling until they reach an individual to complete the reporting process. For the avoidance of doubt, regardless of the current age of the victim of suspected or reported abuse, a report should be made to ChildLine if abuse occurred.
- If a child is in immediate danger, the employee should contact police at 911 to obtain immediate protection for the child.
- Finally, if you are considered to be an Authorized Adult as defined in policy AD39, follow the reporting procedure as described in AD39.
As per Pennsylvania law, any person or institution participating in good faith in the making of a report or testifying in any proceeding arising out of an instance of suspected child abuse shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
Any person or official required by law to report a case of suspected child abuse who willfully fails to do so shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the second degree for subsequent violations. Most importantly, without making a report, a child may continue to be at risk. 23 Pa.C.S. §6318 and §6319.
All University employees will be required to complete Reporting Child Abuse training each calendar year through the Office of Human Resources, Center for Workplace Learning and Performance.
If any University employee willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse, it will result in disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal.
Other Policies in this Manual should also be referenced, especially the following:
AD39 - Minors Involved in University-Sponsored Programs or Programs Held at the University,
HR05 - “Regular” and “NonRegular” University Employees,
HR70 - Dismissal of Tenured or Tenured-eligible Faculty Members,
HR78 - Staff Employee Failure to Meet Acceptable Standards of Performance, and
RA14 - The Use of Human Participants in Research
Most recent changes:
Revision History (and effective dates):