Suspected Child Abuse and/or Neglect
The purpose of “reporting guidelines” for school personnel is to insure the greatest efficiency and consistency in referring suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to the proper agency. In accordance with the Laws of the State of Rhode Island, any person who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that any child has been abused or neglected as defined herein, shall, within twenty-four hours, transfer such information to the Department of Children Youth and Families, who shall cause the report to be investigated immediately. The HOTLINE telephone number is 1-800-742-4453.
IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY
Any person participating in good faith in making a report pursuant to this Law shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such participant shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.
DEFINITIONS as defined in Chapter 11 section “40-11-2”
1. “Child” means a person under the age of eighteen.
2. An “abused and/or neglected child” means a child whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed, or threatened with harm, when his parent or other person responsible for his welfare:
- inflicts or allows to be inflected upon the child, physical or mental injury, including excessive corporal punishment; or
- creates or allows to be created, a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including excessive corporal punishment; or
- commits or allows to be committed, against the child, an act of sexual abuse; or
- fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care, through financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so; or
- fails to provide the child with a minimum degree of care of proper supervision or guardianship because of his unwillingness or inability to do so by situations or conditions such as, but not limited to, social or psychiatric problems or disorders, mental incompetency or the use of a drug, drugs, or alcohol to the extent that the parent or other person responsible for the care for the child’s welfare, loses his ability or is unwilling to properly care for the child; or
- abandons or deserts the child.
3. “Mental injury” includes a state of substantially diminished psychological or intellectual functioning in relation to, but not limited to, such factors as: failure to thrive; ability to think or reason; control of aggressive or self-destructive impulses; acting-out or misbehavior, including incorrigibility, ungovernability or habitual truancy; provided, however, that such injury must be cleared attributable to the willingness or inability of the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare to exercise a minimum degree of care toward the child.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF REPORTS AND RECORDS
All records concerning reports of child abuse and neglect including reports made to the department shall be confidential, except as specifically provided by this act or specifically authorized by the Family Court in furtherance of the purposes directly connected with this chapter.
PROCEDURE FOR SCHOOL REPORTING
The following reporting procedure requirements have been adopted by the Smithfield School Committee;
A. Teachers and other school personnel shall report suspected child abuse and/or neglect cases to the principal. This in no instance relieves the person who initiated the report from reporting. The principal will either ascertain that a report has been made or make the report him or herself. Therefore, the principal should report back to the initiator that a report has been made.
The principal or designee shall make an oral report, within twenty-four hours, to DCYF giving the following information:
- name, address, age, date of birth, and sex of the child.
- name, address of the child’s parents or persons responsible for the child’s care.
- name, address of the person allegedly responsible for the abuse and/or neglect, if known.
- name of siblings who may be in danger, if known.
- nature and extent of injuries or a description of such.
B. The principal or designee, shall keep a copy, in his or her office, of the referral, noting date, time, contact person and reason for referral-—state facts only, put what the child says in “QUOTES”
C. The Principal or designee shall notify the Superintendent of Schools and send sealed copy of enclosed form to the office of the Superintendent.
D. DCYF caseworkers upon presenting their photo identification from DCYF may question a child and remove the child from the school without consent of the parent or principal.