01. Who is a mandatory reporter?

02. Who is not a mandatory reporter?

03. Is there a “research exemption” under this law?

04. Who is a “child” under the law? Are OSU students included in the definition of a “child” for the purpose of complying with mandatory reporting requirements?

05. What is “abuse” under the mandatory reporting law?

06. What about various forms of discipline, such as spanking?

07. Who do I contact if I suspect or learn of child abuse?

08. What information do I need to report?

09. Do I have to prove that abuse occurred?

10. What if I learn of abuse from a long time ago?

11. What if I learn of abuse through a student's written work or an applicant essay?

12. How do I respond to a child who reports abuse to me?

13. As a mandatory reporter, do my reporting obligations under the law end when I am not working or I am not “on-the-job”?

14. Will my report be confidential?

15. Can I be sued if I report?

16. What if I don’t report?

 

01. Who is a mandatory reporter?

All “public and private officials” as defined by state statute (ORS 419B.005):

  • School Employees (Effective January 1, 2013, employees of Oregon higher education institutions are explicitly included in the law as mandatory reporters.)
  • Coaches
  • Certain State Agency/Commission Employees
  • Legislators
  • Peace Officers
  • Firefighters and Emergency Medical Personnel
  • Members of the Clergy
  • Child Care Providers
  • Doctors/Nurses/Dentists/Pharmacists/Chiropractors
  • Psychologists/Professional Counselors/Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Child Care or Foster Care Providers
  • Attorneys

 

02. Who is not a mandatory reporter?

Volunteers, contractors or students who are not employees are not mandatory reporters unless their profession is otherwise noted in the list in question 1.

However, separate from any legal duty, non-employees and volunteers acting as program personnel or support personnel in a university youth program are required by OSU policy to report reasonably suspected child abuse discovered while performing duties related to the program.

 
03. Is there a “research exemption” under this law?

No, even if the employee learns of suspected child abuse through research meant to help children (for example, in sex trafficking, parenting, and drug-related research).

In certain limited cases of anticipated research, OSU may proactively seek agreement from the relevant District Attorney not to prosecute researchers for failure to report.  Talk to your Department Head and the OSU Research Office Institutional Review Board (IRB) Administrator, who can work with your Dean, the Vice President for Research, and the Office of General Counsel in these efforts.  It is unclear how successful these attempts will be, especially in cases involving children in multiple counties across the state.

Please contact the OSU IRB Administrator about what notification of reporting requirements you will need to give your research subjects.

 
04. Who is a “child” under the law? Are OSU students included in the definition of a “child” for the purpose of complying with mandatory reporting requirements?

A “child” is any “unmarried person who is under 18 years of age.”  Some OSU students qualify under this definition and are covered by the mandatory reporting law.  

 
05. What is “abuse” under the mandatory reporting law?

Any assault of a child and any physical injury to a child caused by other than accidental means; Any mental injury to a child, which shall include only observable and substantial impairment of the child’s mental or psychological ability to function caused by cruelty to the child, with due regard to the culture of the child; Rape of a child, which includes but is not limited to rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration and incest; Sexual abuse; and Sexual exploitation, including: Contribution to the sexual delinquency of a minor;Allowing, permitting, encouraging or hiring a child to engage in prostitution or patronize a prostitute; Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child; Threatened harm to a child, which means subject a child to a substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare; and Buying or selling a child.

 
06. What about various forms of discipline, such as spanking?

The law exempts from the definition of “abuse” any “reasonable discipline” unless the discipline results in one of the conditions described in question 5.

 
07. Who do I contact if I suspect or learn of child abuse?

You must immediately report to the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) or law enforcement if you have “reasonable cause to believe” that any child with whom you come into contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom you come into contact has abused a child. A law enforcement agency is a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police. If you believe someone is being hurt or is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For non-emergencies, you may report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll free number allows you to report abuse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The law requires an “oral” report, so reports are typically made by phone.  You may be asked for additional written information from the agency you contacted.

You do not need to report to both DHS and local law enforcement.  A report to one agency will be communicated to the other.

In addition to an external report, university employees have a further obligation to internally notify OSU about any instances of child abuse related to university activities or affiliated persons by submitting the OSU Mandatory Reporting Notification FormHowever, this does not alleviate your duty to report to DHS or law enforcement.

Should a supervisor receive such a report, the supervisor is to immediately contact the OSU Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at 541-737-3556 or equal.opportunity@oregonstate.edu.

 
08. What information do I need to report?

If possible, provide the following information:

  • Names and addresses of the child and parent;
  • Child’s age;
  • Type and extent of abuse;
  • The explanation given for the abuse; and
  • Any other information that will help establish the cause of abuse or identify the abuser.
 
09. Do I have to prove that abuse occurred?

No.  You are asking DHS or law enforcement to make an assessment of the situation, and you must report any time you have “reasonable cause” to believe a child was abused.  If you have questions about whether or not to report, please call the local DHS office or the OSU Office of Youth Safety & Compliance at 541-737-9362 or youthsafety.compliance@oregonstate.edu.

 
10. What if I learn of abuse from a long time ago?

If you have reasonable cause to believe that another person with whom you come in contact abused a child or suffered child abuse in the past, your reporting obligation has no time limit and you must contact DHS or law enforcement.

 
11. What if I learn of child abuse through a student writing assignment or an applicant essay?

Reporting obligations apply if a writing assignment or essay contains descriptions of child abuse or neglect, provided you have reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse, or that someone has abused a child.

 

12. How do I respond to a child who reports abuse to me?

If a child discloses abuse, remain calm, be patient, and try not to rush the child. If appropriate, ask open-ended questions, but do not press the child for details. Use active listening to repeat what the child said using their own words. Ask, "Is there anything else?" Tell the child you believe them and that you are going to contact people who can help.

 

13. As a mandatory reporter, do my reporting obligations under the law end when I am not working or I am not “on-the-job”?

No, they do not. As an employee of an Oregon higher education, you are designated by the law as a mandatory reporter.  Your obligations as a mandatory reporter are specific to you as an individual, not a time period, location, or role/duty.  As a mandatory reporter, your obligations continue 24/7 no matter where you are. 

 
14. Will my report be confidential?

The reporter’s identity will remain confidential to the full extent allowable by laws.  If court action is initiated, the reporting person may be called as a witness or the court may order that the reporter’s name be disclosed.  Only people with firsthand knowledge of the child’s situation can provide testimony proving that abuse has occurred.

 
15. Can I be sued if I report?

Oregon law (ORS 419.025) provides that anyone participating in good faith in making a report of child abuse and who has reasonable grounds for making the report, will have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might occur with respect to the making or content of such report.

As with any violation of the law, failure to report can be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

 
16. What if I don’t report?

A mandatory reporter who fails to report is subject to prosecution of a Class A criminal violation of the law, which carries a maximum penalty of $2,000. Some mandatory reporters have also been sued for damages in civil court for failure to report.