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How Do I Recognize Child Abuse and Neglect?

As a mandated reporter, you don't have to decide whether or not a child is being abused or neglected. That is the responsibility of the Monroe County Child Protective Services (CPS) staff. You are mandated to call the Hotline if you have a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect.

There are physical signs and behavior changes, known as indicators that may result from child abuse/neglect. If you notice an indicator, it should raise a 'red flag' in your mind about the possibility of abuse/neglect.

However, not every indicator automatically means that the child is being abused or neglected. For example, bruises may or may not be caused by physical abuse. Likewise, a child’s head lice and dirty clothes may or may not be due to neglect. Once you have noticed an indicator, you also must ask questions to learn more about the circumstances relating to the indicator(s) in order to form a reasonable suspicion.

Many mandated reporters have little experience asking these kinds of questions, and thus may be uncomfortable with the idea. You may be afraid of the family’s reaction or fear that probing questions will damage your relationship with the family or the child. You may not know what questions to ask, or what not to ask, or how to ask questions without blaming or accusing. Click on the sidebar questions to find out how to recognize child abuse or neglect.