University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement
11.8



Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

(Approved by the Provost and Executive Vice President by authority of Executive Order No. 4; the Senior Vice President for Finance and Facilities by authority of Executive Order No. 5; the Vice President for Human Resources by authority of Executive Order No. 9; and the Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Life by authority of Executive Order No. 10)



1.  Policy: Child Abuse and Neglect Must Be Reported

The University of Washington does not tolerate child abuse. Suspected perpetrators of child abuse, including University employees, volunteers, or students, may be removed from the premises and may be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution. Employees, volunteers, or students who engage in child abuse in the workplace, or who use University facilities, property, or resources to engage in child abuse are subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal from employment, engagement, or from educational programs.

All University employees and volunteers who have reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect must immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect to law enforcement or the Department of Social and Health Services as specified in this policy. This reporting responsibility is separate from and in addition to the responsibility UW employees have to report complaints of discrimination and/or harassment or sexual harassment they receive in accordance with Executive Order No. 31 or other relevant University policies (See Section 7).

This policy is adopted in accordance with Chapter 26.44 RCW, Abuse of Children law, and RCW 28B.10.846, Report of Child Abuse or Neglect—Reporting Responsibilities. This policy applies to all University of Washington employees, including academic personnel, staff, temporary staff, academic student employees, and student employees at all University campuses and locations and to volunteers in University programs. The University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, and Hall Health Primary Care Center each have policies and procedures governing mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect by health care providers who work at these locations. Health care providers working at the University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, or Hall Health Primary Care Center follow those policies and procedures. Students are encouraged to use the Child Abuse Reporting Process in Section 3 below to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

2.  Definitions

The following definitions apply to the terms used in this policy:

Child or children means any person or persons under the age of eighteen years of age.

Child abuse as defined in RCW 26.44.020 includes:

  • Abuse or neglect means sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or injury of a child by any person under circumstances which cause harm to the child’s health, welfare, or safety, or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child. The physical discipline of a child is not considered to fall within the reporting obligation when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent, teacher, or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child. Any use of force on a child by any other person is unlawful unless it is reasonable and moderate and is authorized in advance by the child's parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.

  • Negligent treatment or maltreatment means an act or a failure to act, or the cumulative effects of a pattern of conduct, behavior, or inaction, that evidences a serious disregard of consequences of such magnitude as to constitute a clear and present danger to a child's health, welfare, or safety.

  • Sexual exploitation includes:

    • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution by any person; or

    • Allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in the obscene or pornographic photographing, filming, or depicting of a child by any person.

3.  Child Abuse Reporting Process

  a. How to Make a Report

University employees and volunteers must orally report suspected child abuse or neglect by telephone or otherwise at the first opportunity, but no later than 48 hours after suspecting abuse has taken place. There are three alternative ways to make such a report:

    #1 Call the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) at 206-685-UWPD (8973).  If the incident is outside of UWPD’s jurisdiction, UWPD will report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency; or

    #2 Call the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) at 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276); or

    #3 Call the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the location of the suspected incident, if other than the UWPD.

    Upon request by the law enforcement agency or DSHS, the oral report must be followed by a written report.

For suspected child abuse that occurs in a University program or at a University facility regardless of its location, University employees and volunteers must also notify their supervisor or departmental administrator of the suspected abuse immediately after they report the suspected abuse to UWPD, DSHS, or a local law enforcement agency. The supervisor or departmental administrator must notify the administrative head of their organization that a report of suspected child abuse or neglect has been made in accordance with this policy. The administrative head or the administrative head's designee will contact the UWPD to confirm that it has received a report of the suspected abuse and the appropriate Human Resources office to determine what other actions may be warranted.

The reporting obligation does not apply to the discovery of abuse or neglect that occurred during childhood if it is discovered after the child has become an adult. However, if there is reasonable cause to believe other children are or may be at risk of abuse or neglect by the accused, the reporting requirement does apply and a report must be made.

  b. What to Report

The following information may be requested when making a report:

    #1 The name, address, and age of the child;

    #2 The name and address of the child's parents, stepparents, guardians, or other persons having custody of the child;

    #3 The description of the alleged injury or injuries;

    #4 The description of the alleged neglect;

    #5 The description of the alleged sexual abuse;

    #6 Any evidence of previous injuries, including their nature and extent; and

    #7 Any other information that may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child's death, injury, or injuries and the identity of the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators.

4.  Retaliation Prohibited

  University policy prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a report in accordance with this policy and/or Chapter 26.44 RCW or who cooperates with or participates in any investigation of allegations of child abuse. Retaliation means to take adverse action against an individual because he or she has acted in accordance with this policy and/or Chapter 26.44 RCW.

5.  Other Provisions of the Abuse of Children Law

  a. Good Faith Reports

Under RCW 26.44.060 any person participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to the Abuse of Children Law or testifying as to alleged child abuse or neglect in a judicial proceeding shall in so doing be immune from any liability arising out of such reporting or testifying under any law of this state or its political subdivisions.

  b. Cooperating in Good Faith

Under RCW 26.44.060, a person who, in good faith and without gross negligence, cooperates in an investigation arising as a result of a report made pursuant to Chapter 26.44 RCW, shall not be subject to civil liability arising out of his or her cooperation. This provision does not apply to a person who caused or allowed the child abuse or neglect to occur.

  c. Legal Defense of Public Employee

Under RCW 26.44 032, when a public employee acts in good faith and without gross negligence in his or her reporting duty under the Abuse of Children Law, and if the employee’s judgment as to what constitutes reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect is being challenged, the public employer will provide for the legal defense of the employee in accordance with RCW 26.44.032.

6.  Additional Information

For additional information, refer to one of the following:

7.  References

For related University policies, see:

  • Executive Order No. 31, Non-discrimination and Affirmative Action

  • Administrative Policy Statement 11.7, Policy on Domestic Violence in the Workplace and Leave Related to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

  • Administrative Policy Statement 46.3, Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees

  • UW Policy & Procedure on Violence in the Workplace

June 13, 2013.