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Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

As a program staff member, you are a mandated reporter. This means that you are legally bound to report your suspicions of child abuse or neglect. It is your job to know the possible signs and make the call that could save a child’s life. This lesson will give you information to help you prepare for and make a report of child abuse or neglect. 

  • Describe and follow internal and external reporting procedures for your workplace.  
  • List the information that should be provided when making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect.  
  • Prepare yourself for the emotions and events that follow a report of child abuse or neglect. 



We all want to keep children safe. To do so, we must be able to recognize when a child is in harm’s way. Look for the following signs from the Child Welfare Information Gateway fact sheet on Child Abuse and Neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

The child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or seems to regress without explanation
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
  • Is dropped off at the program or other activities early, stays late, or does not want to go home

The parent:

  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child's problems in the program or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The parent and child:

  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other

It’s not always easy to recognize child abuse and neglect. Remember that any one of these signs by itself does not necessarily mean a child has been abused or neglected. Often a pattern or combination of behaviors may lead to the suspicion that a child is experiencing abuse or neglect.

Asking Questions and Opening the Lines of Communication

All children get hurt occasionally: bumps, bruises, and scrapes can be signs of healthy exploration. Sometimes, more serious accidents happen as well: a child pulls a cup of hot tea down on herself or a child is involved in a car accident. Sometimes a medical condition causes symptoms that mimic abuse. For example, some skin conditions can cause marks that look like bruises or scars. To be most effective at protecting children from child abuse and neglect, we must be able to differentiate between accidents and abuse. Conversations are a powerful tool for doing so. Whenever you notice an injury or symptom in a child, complete an incident or accident report and ask about the injury. This is a standard part of caregiving and shows you take an interest in the child’s well-being. Remember, you are not investigating the injury. You are simply doing what comes naturally when someone is hurt: asking what happened and how the person is doing. Here are some tips for asking questions:

  • Ask open-ended questions. You might say, “Ouch. That looks like it hurts. What happened?”
  • Show concern and empathy: “I bet that was pretty scary. How did it happen?”
  • Make sure it’s an OK time to talk, and be prepared to get help if the family needs it. “Is it OK to ask you about Geri’s bruises? Do you have a minute?”
  • Find out if there is anything else you should know about the injuries. “I’m glad you took her to the doctor. Is there anything we should do to make her comfortable during the day? Or is there anything she shouldn’t do?”

In most cases the family member will give you a clear and accurate account of what happened. You can also ask the child what happened. You might suspect child abuse or neglect if:

  • The child’s answer and the adult’s answers do not match or if two different adults give conflicting stories about how the injury happened. For example, a child has scratches all over her face. At drop-off, her dad says she got them from a child at a birthday party. At pick-up, her mom says she got them from the family cat.
  • The story does not seem consistent with the child’s developmental level. For example, if you know a child cannot yet physically pull her body weight up to climb a tree, you might be suspicious if the parent says she climbed high enough to fall and get seriously injured.
  • The story is not consistent with the injuries. For example, a child has burn marks on his hands that look almost like gloves—his hands were clearly submerged in something hot. His mother says the child accidentally grabbed a pot off the stove. Accidental burn injuries usually show some kind of splatter patterns as the child pulls away.

Resources You Should Know About

Your Training & Curriculum Specialist or Program Manager can be valuable resources as you learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect. They are your first line of support. Go to them whenever you have questions or concerns.

Your Family Advocacy Program can provide training and technical support around recognizing child abuse and neglect. Talk to your T&CS, PM, and FAP representative about any questions or concerns you have.

The Family Advocacy Program will provide more installation- and Service-specific training on local issues, protocols, and resources. You will also receive additional training from your T&CS throughout your career. The Virtual Lab School course is just the beginning of your professional learning around reporting and preventing child abuse and neglect.

Scope and Mission of Family Advocacy Programs

Your FAP team can help you recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.

You can find a quick summary of FAP roles and responsibilities as an attachment at the end of the Learn section.


The following are signs often associated with particular types of child abuse and neglect. It is important to note, however, that these types of abuse are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child, for example, is often emotionally abused as well, and a sexually abused child also may be neglected. Remember, there are two kinds of abuse to remain aware of: familial and institutional. The signs and behavioral indicators you see in children may be similar for each.

Physical Abuse

You might see a child who...

  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from the program
  • Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

You might see a parent or adult who...

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury
  • Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child

Examples of Familial Physical Abuse

  • Jordyn has circular burn marks up and down her thighs. They are size and shape of a cigarette.
  • A child has bite marks on his arm. When you ask what happens, he says, “I bit my brother, so mom bit me back.”

Examples of Institutional Physical Abuse

  • Robert has been using severe challenging behavior lately. A staff member says, “I’ll take care of this. I know his mom and she would not want him to get away with this,” and takes Robert around the side of the building out of sight. When they come back, Robert is crying and holding his backside.

Sexual Abuse

You might see a child who...

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting
  • Suddenly refuses to change clothes or to participate in physical activities
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite
  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Runs away
  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver

You might see a parent or adult who...

  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members

Examples of Familial Sexual Abuse

  • You see Candice lying on top of a boy in the dramatic play center. She is clearly making sexual movements and seems to have a very accurate knowledge of sexual behavior.
  • Amelia’s 19-year-old brother is coming to pick her up today. She tells you she loves her brother and they have “secrets” in her room at night.

Examples of Institutional Sexual Abuse

  • A staff member has sexual pictures of a child on his or her phone.
  • A child tells you Mr. Jay’s “pee-pee is bigger than his.”

Emotional Abuse

You might see a child who...

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression
  • Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example)
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development
  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent

You might see a parent or adult who...

  • Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child
  • Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child’s problems
  • Overtly rejects the child
  • Has bruises, reports fear of partner/other parent, makes statements about abuse from partner (domestic violence)

Examples of Familial Emotional Abuse

  • A father comes to pick Dora up from the program. He tells her to stop being “slow and stupid like her mom.”
  • A 5-year-old says there is nothing he likes to do with his parents and ignores them when they arrive at the program.

Examples of Institutional Emotional Abuse

  • A staff member joins in when children begin ridiculing another child’s body size. She calls the child “fat and lazy.”
  • A staff member forces a child to stay in his soiled clothes after a toileting accident so he “learns a lesson.”


You might see a child who...

  • Is frequently absent
  • Begs or steals food or money
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
  • States that there is no one at home to provide care

You might see a parent or adult who...

  • Appears to be indifferent to the child
  • Seems apathetic or depressed
  • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
  • Is abusing alcohol or other drugs

Examples of Familial Neglect

  • 4-year-old Marjorie tells you her 6-year-old sister had to make dinner for her last night. No other adults were in the home.
  • Zach’s mom has not brought in a replacement for his empty rescue inhaler. Zach has severe asthma and needs the medication.

Examples of Institutional Neglect

  • A staff member leaves children unattended on the playground, and a child gets injured.
  • A staff member takes an unscheduled break and leaves children unsupervised.

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect in Child Development Centers

Caring for children can be a stressful job. There can be a fine line between inappropriate caregiving practices and child abuse. When in doubt, talk to your administratorT&CS, Program Manager, or FAP. In the course on Preventing Child Abuse in Center Settings, you will learn more about positive guidance and discipline strategies. Sometimes, discipline practices cross the line into maltreatment and even abuse. You will learn more about that in the next course. This lesson focuses on clear examples of child abuse or neglect in child development centers. If you see a pattern of any of these signs or behaviors, you might suspect child abuse or neglect in your setting:

Signs of Abuse in Programs

  • A staff member hits or strikes a child.
  • A staff member uses corporal punishment like spanking or whipping.
  • A staff member touches a child sexually or forces a child to touch the staff member sexually.
  • A staff member publicly ridicules a child for having an accident and soiling their pants.
  • A staff member takes an unscheduled break and leaves the program out of ratio or children unsupervised.
  • A staff member leaves children unsupervised while using dangerous equipment, or the staff member does not stop dangerous behaviors while using the equipment.
  • A staff member withholds food as punishment.
  • Staff members ignore a fight between two children, and a child is seriously injured.

Medical Conditions Mistaken for Abuse

There are several medical conditions that often bring about symptoms that could be mistaken for abuse. It is important to be aware of these conditions, but remember you are not responsible for making medical diagnoses. If you have questions, ask the family or a community resource for support.

  • Mongolian spots: These gray spots are present at birth and often look like bruises. They are usually found on the buttocks or lower back, but they can be found anywhere. They fade slowly over time.
  • Blood or bleeding disorders: Some genetic conditions can cause severe bruising.
  • Bone deficiencies or diseases: Some bone diseases cause bones to break easily.

Cultural Practices Mistaken for Abuse

Some cultures have rituals or healing practices that might be mistaken for signs of abuse. All suspected concerns of abuse should be immediately reported. It is not your job to determine whether something you see is a cultural practice or an instance of abuse. Even though the action may be a cultural practice, it could still be considered abuse. This is why you should make a report and let CPS or FAP make that determination. This section is intended only to give you some basic information about customs that can be mistaken for child abuse. Two common examples are coining and cupping.

In coining, the chest, back, and shoulders are rubbed with a medicated ointment. Then a warmed copper coin is rubbed from the top of the shoulders down the back. Dark lines appear from the pressure and the heat. The marks, which look like long bruises, usually last for several days.

Cupping is a home remedy used to relieve pain in the legs, back, chest, abdomen, or head. A small glass cup is held upside down and a candle is lit inside it. The cup is quickly placed on the skin and a vacuum effect draws the skin up. A circular mark is left on the skin for several days. There is often a series of cup marks along the affected area. Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Michael Phelps brought the practice to the forefront during the 2016 Olympics.

There are many other cultural practices that might be considered child abuse by state law. If you are unsure whether a mark is a sign of child abuse, it is always best to make a report. The appropriate authorities will make the determination.


  • Get to know all the children in your care and their families. You cannot recognize a problem if you don’t know what is typical for the child. Learn children’s patterns, temperaments, preferences, and abilities. Talk to families every day.
  • Learn all you can about child development. Some changes in a child’s behavior can be startling but completely typical. For example, it’s not unusual for toddlers to have bruises all over their legs or on their heads. Falling is a part of learning to walk and run! Young children may be scared of certain adults as part of typical stranger anxiety. Knowing these developmental stages can help you recognize when a child’s behavior goes beyond what is typically expected.
  • Attend trainings offered by your installation’s Family Advocacy Program on child abuse identification and reporting.
  • Develop respectful communication skills. If you have a concern, ask about it. Ask open-ended questions that focus on the child’s well-being. “Is it okay if I ask you about Jordan’s bruises?” or “I’ve noticed that Tasha hasn’t seemed like herself lately. Is everything okay?” If something doesn’t seem right, gather as much information as you can.
  • Keep careful records. Your daily health screening can be an important tool for identifying child abuse and neglect. Look for signs or behavioral indicators and write down what you see or hear. Write down adults’ explanations for injuries and children’s explanations (if applicable). If a pattern emerges, you will have ample evidence for making your report.
  • Learn about the cultures of the children you serve. Some cultures have rituals or healing practices that might be mistaken for signs of abuse. Ask your trainer or manager for information if you need help. When in doubt, make a report. Child Protective Services or the Family Advocacy Program will decide whether abuse has occurred.
  • Learn reporting procedures for your state or installation. You will learn more about this in the next lesson.

Department of Defense Requirements for Reporting

You play a key role in ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the children and youth under your care and supervision. If you suspect child abuse, reporting to your installation's Family Advocacy Program, your Reporting Point of Contact (RPOC) in Army programs, Child Protective Services (if located in CONUS), and law enforcement is a moral and legal obligation. All individuals working or volunteering with children and youth in a DoD-sponsored facility or activity are mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the installation Family Advocacy Program (FAP), the DoD program designated to address child abuse and neglect in military families. In addition, Department of Defense personnel who are considered “covered professionals” are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect, regardless of whether the incident occurred on or off the installation, to the appropriate local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency (if located in CONUS), and law enforcement. CPS investigates the allegation, and FAP works in collaboration with CPS to ensure the safety of the child and to provide treatment and resources for the parents, as appropriate. You should ensure you are following your installation’s reporting policies and procedures when a report is made.

Department of Defense policy and, in many cases, federal and state laws require you to report suspected child abuse. Ideally, a report will prompt early intervention before a child is hurt. The following information will help you take the important steps in contacting FAP, CPS, and law enforcement and understand how those calls are assessed.

How to Report Child Abuse

If you know or suspect a child has been abused or neglected, whether by a parent or staff member/provider/volunteer on or off an installation, follow your Service’s procedures for reporting your concern to the installation FAP, local CPS agency, and law enforcement officials.

Each installation that supports military families has a FAP point of contact to receive calls concerning the safety and welfare of children. The number to call is publicized throughout the military community. You can also call your installation's Family Support Center or visit the Military Installation’s website for information.

Assessing Reports of Child Abuse

In most States, child abuse calls can be made anonymously to Child Protective Services (CPS), law enforcement, and your installation’s FAP, however the contact information of the reporting person is almost always collected. As mandated reporters, you should provide your contact information for documentation and follow-up purposes. When suspected abuse is reported, a team will assess the safety and welfare of the child.

When Family Advocacy Program personnel receive a call concerning the safety and welfare of a child, they ensure that everyone who is capable of protecting the safety and well-being of the child (the active duty member's commander, law enforcement, the medical treatment facility and CPS) is aware of the risk and protective factors that are affecting the family. These community members often work as a team to ensure that children are protected, the parents receive appropriate intervention and the family receives the services they need to be able to form more healthy relationships. FAP, law enforcement, and CPS will not share the identity of the individual who made the report with the family.

Civilian CPS also responds to calls on many CONUS installations concerning the safety and welfare of children. They may visit the identified child (they might go to the child's school or home), and they will also interview the child's parents or guardian. If they determine there is no evidence of abuse, the case will likely be closed. In some cases, the FAP or CPS may refer the family for counseling if they feel the family's life circumstances place them at risk for abuse or neglect.

If Child Protective Services determines that abuse or neglect did occur, the civilian family court system will become involved. Sometimes, the judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child's interests. The guardian ad litem will review all available information and evidence from law enforcement, the FAP and CPS, and make recommendations to the court based on what they believe is in the child's best interest.

If the local civilian law enforcement agency is involved and its investigation finds that abuse occurred, misdemeanor or felony criminal charges may be brought. If a service member is convicted of a criminal offense in civilian court, the military may still decide to proceed with a court-martial hearing or other disciplinary action, including separation from the service.

Child Abuse at a DoD-Sponsored Facility or Activity

The Department of Defense makes every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of children involved in Defense facilities such as schools, Child Development Centers, or Department of Defense-sponsored activities, such as youth sports or recreation programs. This includes conducting thorough background checks and training all staff, volunteers, and contractors involved with these facilities and programs.

Your program has worked with the installation RPOC and/or Family Advocacy Program manager to establish procedures for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. These procedures state whom you report to, what information to provide, and what to do after reporting. Make sure you are familiar with the procedures on your installation. In Army programs, Child and Youth Services personnel are required to report all incidents of suspected child abuse or neglect to the reporting point of contact (RPOC) and local CPS. Be prepared to share:

Your service has specific procedures that describe whom you report to, what information to provide, and what to do after reporting. Make sure you are familiar with the procedures on your installation. In the Apply section, you will have an opportunity to record your program’s specific procedures. In U.S. Air Force programs, you are required to report all suspected child abuse and neglect both by telephone and in writing to the Family Advocacy Officer. Be prepared to share:

Your service has specific procedures that describe whom you report to, what information to provide, and what to do after reporting. Make sure you are familiar with the procedures on your installation. In the Apply section, you will have an opportunity to record your program’s specific procedures. All Child and Youth Programs (CYP) Professionals are mandated reporters by law and Marine Corps policy. Any alleged or suspected child abuse must be reported to the installation Family Advocacy Program (FAP) office, Provost Marshal Office (PMO) and local Child Welfare Services (CWS). Reporting procedures remain the same regardless of whether the alleged or suspected abuser is a professional, parent, or other caregiver. For programs outside of the continental United States (OCONUS), the reporting requirements are nearly identical except that OCONUS locations generally do not have access to a local CPS and thus, must work directly with the installation FAP to ensure complete reporting. Follow your installation’s reporting procedures. Be prepared to share:

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you must make a report to local Child Protective Services or law enforcement. You can find out where to call by visiting the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s state reporting numbers website: Call the reporting number relevant to your state and provide the following information:

  • Name of victim
  • Age of victim
  • Name and contact information for parents or guardians
  • Reasons for suspected abuse or neglect
  • Description and location of victim’s physical injuries (if applicable)
  • Information freely disclosed by victim
  • Current location of victim
  • Known information regarding incident or chronology of events
  • You may be asked if you are a mandated reporter (several states require mandated reporters to disclose their identity)
  • You may be asked if you would like to disclose your identity

As a mandated reporter, it is good practice to document your call.

  • Who you spoke to during the call
  • What time you made the call
  • What information you were able to provide

After the Call

Reporting suspected child abuse or neglect can be a stressful event. It is important to mentally prepare yourself for what happens after the call.

In most states, your report will be evaluated by Child Protective Services. If there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation, a caseworker will initiate the investigation. Children, families, and caregivers may be contacted and interviewed. CPS will determine whether the claim is substantiated and whether the child is safe in the home. If the report of abuse involves alleged criminal acts, law enforcement will be contacted and the investigation will be conducted jointly.

On military installations, the following will occur after a report has been made:

  • After a report of child abuse has been received, FAP is required to notify law enforcement, the appropriate child welfare services agency, and Command. Overseas, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with a host nation defines how investigation and prosecution of crimes committed on installations will be handled.
  • FAP will complete an assessment of the incident and will present the information to the installation Incident Determination Committee (IDC). The IDC is composed of the deputy to the installation or garrison commander, the senior enlisted noncommissioned officer advisor to the installation commander or garrison commander, legal, law enforcement, FAP, a medical professional, and the command representative for the agency or sponsor. Civilian CPS agencies and their counterparts in host countries may participate as well to provide information on incidents that involve their response. This committee is responsible for making a determination of whether the incident meets the DoD definition of child abuse or neglect. If the incident meets the criteria (substantiated), the incident is entered into the Central Registry.
  • FAP offers supportive services to all families regardless of the outcome of the IDC. FAP is an important team member of the coordinated response to suspected child abuse and neglect. At the same time, FAP in coordination with CPS takes steps to protect the child and provide the family with counseling or other assistance.
  • When a report of suspected sexual abuse involves multiple victims in an out-of-home care setting at an installation in the United States or overseas, the DoD may deploy a Family Advocacy Command Assistance Team (FACAT). Under the Commander’s supervision, the FACAT assists in investigation, assessment, and case management.

When a report of suspected abuse involves a staff member, the alleged offender will be reassigned to a position without child contact until a determination is made if the referral meets or does not meet the criteria or definition of child abuse or neglect. Once you have made a report to your RPOC and local CPS, you have fulfilled your legal reporting requirements. After a report, your RPOC will:

  • Notify the Military Police if they have not already been notified.
  • Notify the Chief, FAP/IDC chairperson, so a timely report can be made to the commander and a case manager assigned.
  • Notify the local Inspector General’s office in allegations involving general officers, promotable colonels, and Senior Executive Services civilians.
  • Notify the Child and Youth Services Coordinator when a report involves child abuse alleged to have occurred in a Child and Youth Services quarter or facility-based operation or involved a Child and Youth Services employee.
  • Notify the Family Advocacy Program Manager who is responsible for notifying the chain of command.
  • Based on local memorandums of agreement with a host nation, local child protective services, and local law enforcement, the RPOC may have additional notification requirements.

Regardless of where you work, it is unlikely you will ever hear the results of your report. Confidentiality laws protect the families’ privacy. Also know that it is not uncommon for families to withdraw their child from the program after an allegation of abuse. The report you made may be the last piece of information you have about a child’s situation, but you should feel confident that you fulfilled your responsibilities. If the child and the family remain in your program, your team can continue to help and support the family by focusing on enhancing protective factors in the family and community.

Sometimes staff members worry that they could be sued or punished for making a report. This is not the case. You are protected by law as a mandated reporter. A family cannot sue you for making a report in good faith. Likewise, you cannot be retaliated against for making a report in good faith about a suspected incident in your program.

Common Concerns that Prevent Staff Members from Making Reports

1. We live in a small community. Will my report ruin the parent’s career?

Child development program staff members sometimes worry that reporting suspected child abuse or neglect might impact a Service member’s career or get the individual “fired.” This can make staff members hesitant to make a report, but you should know that law enforcement and CPSCPS, FAP, law enforcement, and command, want to keep victims of abuse safe. But they also want to help families work through their parenting issues so individuals service members can develop healthier relationships and stay in the military services whenever possible. Thinking about what happens to the military career of a family member has no legal bearing on the requirement to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

2. I don’t want to “turn in” my coworker.

When you suspect a coworker or team member of child abuse or neglect, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You might feel like you are “turning in” your coworker, and that is hard. Remember, though, that it is your job to keep children safe. You are a mandated reporter and must report your suspicions. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences for children and for yourself. Remember, you cannot be retaliated against in the workplace for your report. Talk to someone you trust if you need support.

3. What if I’m wrong, what if it’s not abuse?

As a mandated reporter, it is your duty to report, even if it is just a suspicion. You are not responsible to fully investigate the situation. It is your role to report observed and suspected abuse or neglect. It is your responsibility to keep children safe. Remember, you do not need to make the call alone, however you must personally make the call. You can seek guidance on reporting from a trainer, coach, or administrator. If your trainer, coach, or administrator is involved in the abuse or neglect, follow the chain of command to the person above them. The important thing is to make the call, even if it is based on just a suspicion, to protect the safety of the child.

4. Will they tell the family that I was the one to make the report?

All jurisdictions have provisions in statute to maintain the confidentiality of abuse and neglect records. The identity of the reporter is specifically protected from disclosure to the individual suspected of abuse in 44 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. This protection is maintained even when other information from the report may be disclosed. Release of the reporter’s identity is allowed in some jurisdictions under specific circumstances or to specific departments or officials, for example, when information is needed for conducting an investigation or family assessment or upon a finding that the reporter knowingly made a false report. In six states, the District of Columbia, and Guam, the reporter can waive confidentiality and give consent to the release of their name.

How Reporting Abuse or Neglect Might Affect You

You will feel a range of emotions after making a report: frustrated, angry, disappointed, nervous, relieved. All of these emotions are expected. Make sure you talk to someone to help you deal with the emotions you are feeling. The following video helps explain what you might experience after a report and how you can get help.

After the Report: Emotions

Learn about recognizing and dealing with the emotions of a report.


Watch this video to learn more about reporting procedures from the Family Advocacy Program.

Family Advocacy Program: Reporting Procedures

Watch this video to learn more about reporting procedures from the Family Advocacy Program.

Now learn about what to expect after the call.

Family Advocacy Program: What to Expect After the Report

Watch this video to learn more about what happens after you make a report.


As you learned in Lesson 1, you have an obligation to report a suspected case of abuse or neglect. It is not your job to identify the abuser. If you suspect abuse, you need to make a report and allow investigators to determine if abuse or neglect is occurring.

  • Observe children for signs of abuse or neglect.
  • Be familiar with reporting procedures for your installation, state, or host nation.
  • Post reporting procedures in your classroom or know where they are posted in your program.
  • Prepare yourself for the call. Be sure you have the correct spelling of the child’s legal name, the address of the child’s parents or guardians, and all the details outlined earlier in this lesson.
  • If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). This line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can help you find emergency resources.
  • Find Service-specific guidance for making a report of child abuse or neglect in the attachments at the end of this Learn section.


Reread these scenarios in the Preschool Case Study: Part 3 activity in which individuals suspected Kate was being abused. Be sure to notice the additional information about what the adults in each situation did. Then answer the reflection questions and share your responses with a trainer, coach, or administrator. Review the suggested responses for additional reflection.


Because reporting requirements and procedures vary widely, you must know the specific procedures for making a report in your workplace. Review how to complete each section of the My Program’s Reporting Procedures activity with a trainer, coach, or administrator. Store or print a completed sample of this document in an accessible area of your room.

Then make sure you have the most up-to-date Department of Defense Hotline Reporting Poster for your program. You can download and print it to post in your classroom or program. This should be posted for all families, staff, and visitors to see.

Understanding your legal obligation and reporting process for suspected child abuse or neglect is critical in keeping children safe from harm. Staff working toward their CDA credential should complete the Child Abuse & Neglect Legal Requirements and Mandatory Reporting Guidelines handout to provide summaries of the legal requirements regarding child abuse, neglect and mandatory reporting.


Child Protective Services. In most states, CPS receives and investigates reports of child abuse and neglect
Family Advocacy Program. This office is responsible for responding to reports of child abuse and neglect on military installations
Incident Determination Committee or Case Review Committee. This committee evaluates the information and determines whether child abuse and neglect occurred
Mandated reporter:
Professionals who are legally required to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. You are a mandated reporter
Reporting point of contact:
A term used by Army programs. The person or agency you contact to report your suspicions of abuse or neglect. Each installation has a reporting point of contact (RPOC)


True or false? After making a report of child abuse or neglect, you will always receive the results of the investigation. 
If you witness violence or know someone is in immediate danger, whom should you call first? 
True or false? Reports of suspected child abuse and neglect can be made anonymously. 
True or false? If you make a report of child abuse or neglect, you are protected as a mandated reporter.
Janine, your friend and coworker, calls you crying on a Saturday. She says she saw one of the fathers from your classroom at thePUBLICstore. He was in the parking lot screaming at his children. He pulled the 4-year-old behind the car and hit him hard with a closed fist. She knows other people saw, but she does not know if anyone did anything. What do you think Janine should do?
References & Resources

Center for the Study of Social Policy. (2020). Strengthening Families: A Protective Factors Framework.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Violence Prevention.

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