What Happens if You Fail Your Obligations to Report Child or Elderly Abuse?
There is some truth in the statement that reality can be truer than fiction. A young child confides some atrocity to his teacher. Since the youngster has already shown evidence of an overactive imagination, the story is brushed off. After all, why cause problems for the parents? Later, it turns out the poor child has been the victim of abuse for several months. The teacher finds herself up on charges for failing to make the first report.
A similar thing might happen in a nursing home. An elderly woman tells a social worker that one of the nurses is acting inappropriately. Although the social worker listens patiently, she knows the nurse in question. She decides that the nursing home resident is experiencing early stages of dementia. Why make a false report and tarnish a good employee’s reputation?
The answer in both cases is the same. When abuse or neglect is informally reported, the information should be passed on to the proper authorities.
You may hear the term “mandatory reporters’ and assume that only certain professionals have an obligation to report all abuse. It might surprise you to learn that mandatory reporting rules are only applicable when it comes to elderly abuse. The state offers specific guidelines when it comes to reporting harm involving those in residential care.
According to further information provided by the state, “[a]ny caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse or other professional, who, as a result of information obtained in the course of his employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall report such information in a timely manner to the ombudsman or to the person designated by him to receive such report.”
Notwithstanding, one source finds that New Jersey is only one of two states that do not have mandatory child abuse reporting rules tied to any particular profession. Instead, New Jersey laws are more extensive. The statute states “any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency by telephone or otherwise.”
Essentially, the onus is on anyone who suspects child abuse to report it. Furthermore, some professions may have their own requirements when it comes to making reports.
Failure to Report Abuse
First and foremost, a lack of judgment can obviously lead to personal remorse. However, there are laws regarding failing to report abuse.
Let’s first examine the issue of mandatory reporters who fail to report institutionalized elderly victims of abuse. They may be fined up to $5,000.
In New Jersey, anyone who is convicted of failing to report child abuse may be charged with a disorderly persons offense and assessed the appropriate penalties.
A conviction involving a failure to report abuse may mean more than fines or a blemished record. It could easily affect your job and future employment opportunities. If you have been accused of failing to report any type of abuse, you need experienced legal advice. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone for assistance.