University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Presidential Orders

Executive Order

No. 56

Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect



The University of Washington does not tolerate child abuse. Any person who uses University facilities, property, or resources to engage in child abuse, may be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution.

University employees and volunteers who have a reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect must immediately report the suspected abuse, as specified in this policy.



This policy applies to all University of Washington employees—including academic personnel, staff, temporary staff, academic student employees, and student employees—and volunteers in University programs. The policy applies regardless of whether an employee is acting in the capacity of their University duties. The policy applies to volunteers when they are acting within the scope and course of duties as directed by the University.

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 employees and volunteers. Employees and volunteers working at these locations should follow those policies and procedures.



For the purposes of this policy:

  A. Adult means any person age eighteen years or older.

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

  C. Child abuse and neglect includes:

    1) Abuse or Neglect

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 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.

    2) Negligent Treatment or Maltreatment

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.

    3) Sexual Exploitation
  • 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.
    4) Abandonment

A parent or guardian has foregone their responsibility to provide essential care to a child by:
  • Deserting the child in any manner with the intent to abandon the child;

  • Leaving a child without the means or ability to obtain one or more basic needs including food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and medically necessary healthcare;

  • Foregoing for an extended period of time their parental rights, functions, duties, and obligations, despite their ability to fulfill these responsibilities; or

  • Demonstrating a substantial lack of regard for their parental functions or duties for an extended period of time.
  D. Volunteer means a person other than an employee who is performing volunteer activities in an official University program or activity.


Concerns About Abuse or Neglect

An employee or volunteer may become aware of suspected abuse or neglect through a variety of means, including but not limited to witnessing an act of abuse or neglect, observing signs that abuse or neglect has occurred, or receiving oral or written disclosures that abuse or neglect has occurred. Regardless of how an employee or volunteer is made aware of the abuse or neglect, if there is reasonable cause to believe abuse or neglect has occurred, a report must be made.

A disclosure by an adult of abuse or neglect that occurred when the person was a child does not constitute a required report to the authorities. However, if there is reasonable cause to believe that other children are or may currently be at risk of abuse or neglect by the same person, the reporting requirement does apply, and a report must be made.


Reporting Process

In the case of an emergency situation that requires immediate intervention, call 911.

University employees and volunteers must report suspected child abuse or neglect orally by telephone at the first opportunity, but no later than 48 hours, after there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse has taken place.

  A. Whom to Call

    1) Call the Police or DSHS

This step is required in all cases of suspected child abuse or neglect:
  • Call the police. The jurisdiction in which abuse or neglect is suspected to have occurred should be called. If the jurisdiction is unknown, call the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) at 206-685-UWPD (8973); or

  • Call the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) at 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276).
    2) Call UW SafeCampus

This additional step is required when suspected child abuse or neglect occurs in a University program regardless of location, or at a University facility, or if the suspected abuser is a University employee or volunteer:
  • Call SafeCampus at 206-685-SAFE (7233). SafeCampus will initiate a coordinated, University response, as warranted, to ensure proper safety, security, and administrative measures are taken.
  B. What to Report

The following information may be requested by law enforcement, DSHS, or SafeCampus:

    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 name, address and any other identifying information of the suspected perpetrator of abuse (if different from Section 5.B.2 above);

    4) The description of the injuries, statements from the child, or behaviors that you witnessed that gave you cause to suspect abuse or neglect;

    5) The location, if known, where the abuse or neglect occurred;

    6) Any evidence of previous injuries or related incidents, 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.

    Employees or volunteers are not required to have all of the above information in order to make a report, but are encouraged to provide any information that they possess about the minor or the situation prompting the report.


Other Reporting Requirements

  Reports of discrimination and/or harassment or sexual harassment, in accordance with Executive Order No. 31 or other relevant University policies (see Related Policies below), may also be required.

University employees and volunteers may have other mandated reporting requirements under other categories set forth in state statute, for example professional school personnel, psychologists, or licensed or certified child care providers.


Protections for Reporting in Good Faith

  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.

  D. 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.


Additional Information

For additional information, refer to one of the following:


Related State Laws and University Policies

  • Chapter 26.44 RCW, Abuse of Children

  • RCW 28B.10.846, Report of Child Abuse or NeglectóReporting Responsibilities

  • Executive Order No. 31, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action

  • Executive Order No. 51, Sexual Violence Elimination

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

  • Administrative Policy Statement 46.8, Domestic Violence in the Workplace and Reasonable Accommodations and Leave Related to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

  • Workplace Violence website



  June 13, 2013; [formerly APS 11.8] June 26, 2017; RC, July 27, 2021.