Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting

Discussion of Neglect Scenario 1


The correct answer for Scenario 1 is No.

The situation referenced in Scenario 1 should not be reported to DFCS as neglect.

Georgia law specifically prohibits neglect of a child. In the law, neglect is defined as a lack of supervision, abandonment, or intentional or unintentional disregard by a parent or caretaker of a child's basic needs for food, shelter, medical care, or education as evidenced by repeated incidents or a single incident which places the child at substantial risk of harm. O.C.G.A. § 49-5-180 (2012).

The student’s basic clothing needs are met. The child is dressed appropriately for the season in clean clothing. Nothing in the scenario as stated places the child at substantial risk of harm.


Key Concepts in Scenario 1:

  • Mandated reporters are required to report neglect of a child in Georgia.
  • The student’s basic clothing needs are met. He is dressed appropriately for the season in clean clothing. Nothing in the scenario as stated places the child at substantial risk of harm.
  • While a referral to DFCS does not seem in order, the student and their family may greatly benefit from a referral to the school social worker.

Features of Scenario 1:

Both the student and the clothing are always clean in Scenario 1. Frequently, when neglect is taking place, the student and their clothing will be dirty. The fact that the student comes to school in the same clothes that appear to be washed and maintained is a positive sign that the family is behaving appropriately despite their economic conditions. The clothing is appropriate for the weather, so there is no concern about health and safety.

While this situation does not need to be reported to DFCS as written, it does deserve a report to the school social worker for resources and assistance. The school social worker can assist the family to help ensure that they are able to continue to meet their basic needs during the father’s job crisis.


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