In Pennsylvania, adults fall into two categories: Mandated Reporters and Permissive Reporters. Mandated Reporters are the professionals and volunteers, such as teachers, social workers and nurses, who are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect. All those who are not mandated are considered permissive reporters - encouraged but not required to make a report.
This categorization exists in most states. However, there are an increasing number like New Jersey who have designated all adults, regardless of profession, volunteer role, etc. mandated reporters. In those states, any adult with reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected must report it to the state for investigation.
The idea behind mandated reporter states is that we are all responsible for the well-being of young people in our communities. By creating groups of individuals who can ignore suspected abuse, we have given them permission to ignore suspected abuse. Children are safer and more able to find help when the adults in their lives regardless of profession are committed to doing what’s right.
Though we continue to live in a state with both mandated and permissive reporters, perhaps now is the time for all of us to begin thinking of ourselves as mandated reporters.
To report suspected child abuse in Pennsylvania, contact ChildLine.