Please do not contact CPE if you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected.
To file a report of abuse or neglect, please contact DCYF’s Central Intake Unit at 1-800-894-5533 or 603-271-6556.
New Hampshire Mandated Reporting Law
Child Protection Act – RSA 169-C:29
Persons Required to Report:
Any physician, surgeon, county medical examiner, psychiatrist, resident, intern, dentist, osteopath, optometrist, chiropractor, psychologist, therapist, registered nurse, hospital personnel (engaged in admission, examination, care and treatment of persons), Christian Science practitioner, teacher, school official, school nurse, school counselor, social worker, day care worker, any other child or foster care worker, law enforcement official, priest, minister, or rabbi or any other person having reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected shall report the same in accordance with this chapter.
*New Hampshire law (RSA 169-C: 29) is clear that any person having reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected is required to report that suspicion to the Central Intake Unit of the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). The staff at the DCYF Central Intake Unit is entirely composed of people who have worked in the field and who can be used as consultants. Once a report is made, the Central Intake Unit will review the report and determine if an assessment by the local DCYF office is needed. If a situation does not rise to the level of assignment for an assessment, the report will be retained at the Central Intake Unit for one year. If a further report is made on this same family within the year, a re-determination will be made as to if DCYF involvement is warranted. If you are unsure whether or not to make a call, MAKE THE CALL and discuss it with a DCYF Intake Worker.
Mandated reporters of suspected abuse and neglect and are afforded the following protection in the reporting process:
- Anyone in good faith making a report is immune from any liability, civil or criminal. (RSA 169-C: 31
- The identity of the reporter and the content of the report are considered to be confidential. (Disclosure may occur if DCYF is court ordered to do so)
- You can request to be anonymous.
- You may be asked to follow up your verbal report with a written report. (Within 48 hrs)
RSA 169-C-3, II, defines an abused child as "...a child who has been:
- Sexually abused;
- Intentionally physically injured;
- Psychologically injured so that said child exhibits symptoms of emotional problems generally recognized to result from consistent mistreatment or neglect;
- Physically injured by other than accidental means."
RSA 169 –C: 3, XIX defines a neglected child as "a child:
- Who has been abandoned by his parents, guardian, or custodian; or
- Who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health, when it is established that his health has suffered or is very likely to suffer serious impairment; and the deprivation is not due primarily to the lack of financial means of the parents, guardian or custodian; or
- Whose parents, guardian or custodian are unable to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child because of incarceration, hospitalization or other physical or mental incapacity."
There are a number of indicators that should be considered in determining what may constitute abuse or neglect. Review these indicators as a guide to help make decisions about possible mandated reporting obligations:**
Indicators of Sexual Abuse:
- Genital pain/itching/odors; diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease; frequent urinary or yeast infections;
- Torn / Stained / Bloodied under clothing;
- Seductive behavior;
- Abrupt changes in child's typical behavior and attitudes;
- Sleep disturbances, including nightmares and fear of sleeping alone or in the dark;
- Depression or excessive crying;
- Regression to behavior common at an earlier age such as: thumb sucking, bedwetting, needing a bottle, or soiling pants;
- Nervous or aggressive behavior towards adults;
- Unusual reaction to (or fear of) a specific person;
- Extreme fears or phobias;
- Expressing explicit sexual knowledge beyond the child’s age level;
- Drop in school grades or participation in activities;
- Self-destructive behavior (i.e. substance abuse);
- Running away;
- Sexual "play" behavior;
- Coercive sexual "play" behavior;
- Displaying an unusual interest in the genitals of peers, adults or animals;
- Withdrawal or isolation from friends;
- Difficulty walking or sitting
Indicators of Physical Abuse:
- Extensive bruises, especially bruises of different colors indicating various stages of healing;
- Burns of all types, but especially cigarette burns and glove-like or immersion bruises;
- Bruises on multiple body parts or in the shape of an object;
- Frequent complaints of soreness or awkward movement as if caused by pain;
- Sleep disturbances: nightmares;
- Dramatic change in appetite;
- Enuresis or encopresis;
- Compulsive and repetitive acts for self-soothing and control;
- Fixation on security item;
- Social withdrawal: avoids physical contact with others;
- Aggressive acting out;
- Bizarre or self-destructive acts; destructive behavior; cruelty to animals;
- Anxiety, flinches when touched; hyper vigilance;
- Depressed: impaired capacity to enjoy life
Indicators of Emotional Abuse:
- Constant self-berating or belittling
- Inability to play as most children do
- Sleep problems
- Antisocial behaviors
- Lags in emotional and intellectual growth
- Self-destructive feelings or behavior
Indicators of Neglect:
- Back of infant's head lacks hair or appears flattened;
- Untreated rashes;
- Failure to thrive: underweight, significant developmental delays;
- Constant fatigue;
- Unattended physical problems or medical needs;
- Listless, poor responsiveness (does not often smile, cry, laugh, play, relate to others), lacks interest and curiosity;
- Consistently dirty;
- Chronic hunger;
- Inadequate dress for weather;
- Lack of supervision or child is left with inadequate caretaker;
- Unsafe housing / living arrangements;
**Please note that these lists are not exhaustive and these indicators to not necessarily prove the that a child has been abused or neglected
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Can I file a report anonymously?
Even as a professional reporter, you have the right to make an anonymous report of suspected abuse or neglect. Those who provide DCYF with their identity can request confidentiality. Federal, as well as state law prohibits divulging the name of the reporter if the reporter does not wish to be identified to the family. However if the court orders disclosure, DCYF must comply with that order.
When do I talk to the Parent/Caretaker and do I inform them about the fact that I have to report suspected abuse and neglect?
Families are often able to figure out who has made the report based upon the details of the material that is discussed with them and sometimes guess the name of the reporter. DCYF is clear with the family that they can neither confirm nor deny the reporter’s name when a confidential report is made, but a considerable amount of time and energy is spent around this issue when the assessment begins. As a professional, it generally is recommended that you let the family know that a report has to be made, as then you are able to try to explain the process to them and help support them through the assessment.
The exception to this would be for reports of child sexual abuse and/or severe abuse, as many times a family’s reaction to this disclosure will cause the child to shut down and not talk about what may have occurred If the person alleged to have harmed the child is a family member, there may be overt efforts to get the child to recant or not talk about what has happened because of concerns about the repercussions of the disclosure. Another situation where informing the family of the report might not be indicated is if the child reports a real fear of the parent or reports that other reports have been made and a parent encouraged the child to deny the abuse.
Many times families report feeling betrayed that a report has been made to DCYF and express to Child Protective Service Workers (CPSW) that they wish the staff person had told them. This is not to say that there aren’t some families who won’t discontinue services, but the alliance can be strengthened if you are with them through the process. If you are unsure if you should advise the family of the report, consult with DCYF Intake.
DCYF has up to 60 days to complete the assessment, however, in most cases the family and children are interviewed within the first week of the report being made. DCYF policy requires that the child victim be interviewed within 72 hours or less depending upon the safety issues identified. Within 24 hours of interviewing the child, a safety review must be completed to insure that the child is safe in the home. In some cases, a medical or mental health examination is required to assist the CPSW in determining if abuse or neglect has occurred.
Practitioners should be reminded that 98-99% of sexual abuse cases have no physical evidence, so this is only one piece of the assessment process.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
In the majority of DCYF cases court, action is NOT taken, however, it is possible that your testimony may be needed to uphold the petition so that the child receives the services needed to stay safe. There are many reasons why your presence may not be needed, so court appearances are not always a given.
If you will be required to testify in court, it will be important to meet with the DCYF attorney before the hearing so that you are aware of the information you will be asked. You may be asked to provide the DCYF attorney with a copy of your resume and outline your education and professional experience with children to the court, as well as to clarify your relationship with the child or family.
When I file a report with DCYF Intake, will I be told what will happen with that report?
Yes, you will be told at the time you make the report or by a follow-up call from Intake if the report will be sent on for an investigation or not.
If the report is investigated will I be told about the results of the investigation?
Confidentiality prevents DCYF from disclosing the outcome of the investigation, but you will be told, as a professional reporter, whether DCYF will continue to remain involved with the family or not.
What if I have information about a child that resides in another state who may be abused or neglected in that state?
You are welcome to call the DCYF Intake Unit and discuss the concerns you have. You may be given the telephone number to report your concerns to the other state or DCYF may make that call as well.
*This information was obtained from: http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/hsem/behavhealth/documents/ManReportingDCYF2-25-08.pdf