As shown by the news of the past year, abuse of children continues to be a terrible societal problem that unfortunately extends to colleges and universities. We all share a moral and ethical responsibility to do what we can to help prevent this abuse. In addition, recent laws have broadened the legal requirements for reporting child abuse to the proper authorities.
The 2012 Legislature enacted Senate Bill 5991, which requires all higher education employees to report suspected child abuse or neglect. As of June 7, “administrative, academic and athletic department” employees now have a mandatory duty to report such information directly to law enforcement or the Department of Social and Health Services. In being assigned this legal responsibility, these employees join K-12 teachers and healthcare professionals, who have long had this mandatory duty to report. All other higher ed employees are required to report suspected abuse to designated supervisors within 48 hours.
Over the summer, we will be working on formal policies to add details to the UW’s implementation of this new law and help define the various categories of employees. In the meantime, it is important to know that if you become aware of suspected child abuse you need to come forward and report it. For those employees with a mandatory duty to file direct reports, contact information for police and DSHS is listed below. For all other employees, you should report any suspected abuse to your dean, chancellor, or department head, pending adoption of more detailed policies.
Thank you for your attention to this.
Ana Mari Cauce
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse to Police or DSHS
The UW Police Department advises reports of suspected child abuse be filed by contacting DSHS Child Protective Services, which offers several ways to report abuse:
- Daytime – Find your local office number to report abuse or neglect in your area.
- Nights & Weekends – call 1-800-562-5624 to report abuse during the evening or on weekends.
- Hotline – call 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276), Washington State’s toll-free, 24 hour, 7 day-a-week hotline that will connect you directly to the appropriate local office to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
- TTY Callers – call 1-800-624-6186 to place a direct TTY call.
You can also report suspected abuse to the police by dialing 911.
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