Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting

Discussion of Physical Abuse Scenario 2

The correct answer for Scenario 2 is No.

The situation referenced in Scenario 2 should not be reported to DFCS.

Accidents happen. Georgia law does not classify an accident between a parent or caretaker that results in physical injury as abuse unless it happens in the context of corporal punishment.” (O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 (2012)) Mandated reporters are not required to report accidents as abuse. However, if you have a suspicion that the injury occurred because of abuse rather than an accident, it should be reported.

Key Concept in Scenario 2:

  • Mandated reporters are not required to report injury to a child that results from an accident between a parent or caregiver and a child unless it happens in the context of corporal punishment.
  • If there is suspicion of abuse, even when the evidence seems to point to an accident, a mandated reporter should report their concerns to DFCS.

Features of Scenario 1:

The student is not trying to hide the injury. Her arm is in a bright pink cast and she immediately starts showing it off when she enters the classroom. Many times, students will try to cover up exposed areas where there is an injury from physical abuse. This might be done by wearing long sleeves when it is short sleeve weather or wearing oversized clothing. Wearing a bright pink cast in full view is the opposite of trying to cover something up.

The student tells everyone a detailed and plausible story about a fun physical activity that ended with two people getting injured. Jumping on a trampoline is inherently risky; however, people play on them every day, and a significant number of ER visits are related to trampoline accidents.

Students will sometimes be coached by a parent on what to say about a visible abuse injury if asked by someone at school. The students account lends itself to credibility because of the obvious medical treatment and the ER doctor’s note excusing her from PE.

You were not acting as an investigator by calling the parent; you were acting like a responsible and caring educator who is building community by reaching out to the parent. The fact that the mother’s account is the same as the daughters, plausible, and backed up by appropriate medical care and openness is helpful. The mother wrote a note asking you to call her to talk about what happened. This is not typical in physical abuse situations.

The scenario ends with you feeling like the broken arm was accidental, so it would not be reported to DFCS. However, if you personally (the reader), as a mandated reporter, disagree with the ending, then the event should be reported. In other words, despite the evidence, if you remain suspicious of abuse, report.

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