Reporting Suspected Child Maltreatment

According to the Department of Human Services, Minnesota counties and tribes review approximately 18,000 reports of possible child abuse and neglect. Hennepin County alone receives approximately 15,000 reports per year regarding possible child abuse or neglect.

On average, these calls result in about 5,200 investigations or assessments which may involve more than one child or allegation.

What exactly qualifies as child maltreatment? Some examples include:

  1. abandonment;
  2. criminal sexual conduct;
  3. sexual abuse by a person responsible for the child’s care;
  4. malicious punishment;
  5. failure to protect a child from conditions or actions that seriously endanger the child’s physical or mental health when reasonably able to do so;
  6. prenatal exposure to a controlled substance used by mother for nonmedical purpose (as evidenced at birth or in first year of life)
  7. chronic or severe use of alcohol or a controlled substance by a parent or person responsible for the care of the child that adversely affects the child’s basic needs and safety
  8. and non-accidental physical injury by person responsible for care

Who must report suspected child abuse or neglect?

  1. Mandated reporters include professionals (or their delegates) in the following fields:
    1. Health (hospital administrators, medical and dental personnel)
    2. Mental health (psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists)
    3. Social services (social workers, employee assistance counselors, guardians ad litem, parenting time expeditors, group home staff, foster parents, custody evaluators)
    4. Child care (home child care providors, child care center staff)
    5. Education (teachers, administrators, support staff)
    6. Law enforcement (police, probation officers, correctional services staff)
    7. Clergy engaged in ministerial duties
  2. Mandated reporters are not permitted to shift reporting responsibility to a supervisor or someone else.

How are reports made?

  1. If it is an emergency (e.g., the child is in immediate danger due to abandonment, recent sexual assault, etc. ) call the police at 911.
  2. To report suspected child abuse or neglect, when the child is not in immediate danger, contact the child protection unit of the county social service agency.