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Report Child Abuse

Under Governor’s Executive Order #54 (EO 54), all UW System employees are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect and have an obligation to report directly to the authorities. At UW–Madison, this mandate includes volunteers and contractors working on behalf of the university.

As an employee, volunteer, or contractor, it is critical that you understand your obligation to report, what to report, and how to report. The information on this page is only an overview.

Online training: To better understand your role as a mandated reporter, complete the Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect (OYPC) online training, offered in partnership between OYPC and the Office of Human Resources.

Why must I report?

Requirements for Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

In accordance with the University of Wisconsin–Madison Policy on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect, all UW–Madison employees (under Wisconsin Executive Order #54, or EO 54), are required to immediately report child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement if, in the course of employment, the employee observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or learns of an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, and the employee has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur. Volunteers and contractors working for UW–Madison sponsored programs or activities are also expected to report suspected abuse or neglect.

A UW–Madison employee who is a mandatory reporter under Wis. Stat. 48.981(2)(a) shall comply with the requirements of the state mandatory reporter law while working in their professional role.

Services and Protection

Deciding to get involved in a situation of suspected abuse or neglect can be difficult. It is, however, a decision that may be crucial to a child not only today, but also in the future.

Caregivers or maltreaters who have abused or neglected their children may need services and support to provide safe care for their children. The sooner an issue is reported, the sooner the child can be helped.

No UW–Madison employee making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services or law enforcement, in good faith, may be discharged from employment, disciplined, or otherwise discriminated against in regard to employment, or threatened with any such treatment, for so doing.

What do I report?

Definition of Child

For purposes of reporting child abuse and neglect, a “child” is a person who is less than 18 years of age.

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Physical Abuse

Definition: Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising, or great bodily harm.

Signs of physical abuse

  • bruises and welts
  • injuries in the shape of an object (e.g., a belt or cord)
  • unexplained burns on palms, soles of feet, back
  • fractures that do not fit the story of how an injury occurred
  • delay in seeking medical help
  • extremes in behavior: very aggressive or withdrawn and shy
  • afraid to go home
  • frightened of parents
  • fearful of other adults

Sexual Abuse

Definition: Sexual intercourse or sexual touching of a child; recording or displaying of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; forcing a child to view or listen to sexual activity; exposing genitals or pubic area to a child or exposing a child’s genitals or pubic area for purposes of sexual gratification; or permitting, allowing, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution.

Signs of sexual abuse

  • pain, swelling or itching in genital area
  • bruises, bleeding, discharge in genital area
  • difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination, pain
  • stained or bloody underclothing
  • venereal disease
  • refusal to take part in gym or other exercises
  • poor peer relationships
  • unusual interest in sex for age
  • drastic change in school achievement
  • runaway or delinquent
  • regressive or childlike behavior

Note: Sexual abuse does not include consensual sexual contact with anyone 16-17 years old.

Emotional Abuse

Definition: “Emotional damage” for which the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable, for reasons other than poverty, to obtain the necessary treatment or take steps to ameliorate the symptoms.

Emotional Damage

Definition: Harm to a child’s psychological or intellectual functioning which is exhibited by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggression. Emotional damage may be demonstrated by substantial and observable changes in behavior, emotional response, or learning which are incompatible with the child’s age or stage of development.

Signs of emotional damage

  • low self-esteem
  • self-denigration
  • severe depression
  • aggression
  • withdrawal
  • severe anxiety

Neglect

Definition: When a parent or caretaker fails, refuses, or is unable, for reasons other than poverty, to provide the necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter, which seriously endangers the physical health of the child.

Signs of neglect

  • poor hygiene, odor
  • inappropriately dressed for weather
  • needs medical or dental care
  • left alone, unsupervised for long periods
  • failure to thrive, malnutrition
  • constant hunger, begs or steals food
  • extreme willingness to please
  • frequent absence from school
  • arrives early and stays late at school or play areas or other people’s homes

Threatened Abuse or Neglect

Threatened abuse or neglect refers to behaviors or conditions a child is exposed to that are dangerous to the child and likely to result in abuse or neglect.

Signs of threatened abuse or neglect

Identify behaviors or conditions that are dangerous or becoming dangerous to a child. Consider the possibility of threatened abuse or neglect when you observe or become aware of the following:

  • Minor injuries that are cause for concern, including bruising on a non-mobile child; bruising or scrapes to vulnerable parts of a child’s body; or an escalating pattern of corporal punishment that increases in severity or frequency.
  • Exposure to violence, even if a child has not yet been injured, when there is domestic violence or a violent person in the home.
  • Exposure to dangerous people or situations, including previous abusers or criminal activity.
  • An impaired caregiver, when there is no one else in the home to provide necessary care or protection.

Abuse as manufacturing of methamphetamine

Definition: The criminal manufacture of methamphetamines is defined as child abuse when it is done under any of the following circumstances:

  • A child is present.
  • It is manufactured in a child’s home, on the premises of a child’s home, or in a motor vehicle on the premises of a child’s home.
  • It is manufactured under any other circumstances where a reasonable person should have known that the manufacture would be seen, smelled, or heard by a child.

Signs of exposure to methamphetamine manufacture

Consider the possibility of meth manufacture in a child’s environment when you see or become aware of the following in a child, particularly in combination:

  • painful or burning eyes or eye irritation
  • skin irritation and redness or burns
  • sneezing and chronic coughing, congestion, or fever
  • chest pain, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath
  • vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea
  • headaches
  • rapid heart rate
  • jaundice or dark-colored urine
  • extreme irritability

Threat of School Violence

Wisconsin Mandated Reporters have an obligation under state law to report threats of school violence to law enforcement.

When to report

You must report if you believe in good faith, based on a threat made by an individual regarding violence in or targeted at a school, that there is a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a student, school employee, or the public.

How to report

Threats of school violence must be reported immediately, in person or by telephone, to law enforcement. Do not report a threat of school violence to Child Protective Services.

How Do I Report?

If there is an emergency or a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

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How to Report Child Abuse or Neglect

If there is an emergency or a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Contact your county social/human services department, sheriff, local police department, or university police department immediately—by telephone or in person.

UW–Madison Police Department
608-264-COPS or 608-264-2677

Madison Police Department
608-255-2345

Dane County Child Protective Services (CPS)
Office hours: 608-261-KIDS or 608-261-5437
After hours: 608-255-6067

Contact CPS in other Wisconsin Counties
Child Protective Services Agency Contact Information

Interpretation Services

If you need language interpretation services to ask questions about your duty to report, request training, or provide an additional campus report, please contact UW–Madison Police Department, the Madison Police Department, or Dane County Child Protective Services.

Additional Campus Reporting Requirement

You fulfill your legal obligation under EO 54 when you report to local law enforcement or CPS. In some cases, you must also inform the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance (OYPC). Find instructions in the Additional Campus Reporting Requirement panel below.

What to Report

If there is an emergency or a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Reports must be given immediately by telephone or in person to law enforcement or Child Protective Services (CPS)—no voicemail or email. Child Protective Services will not disclose information about who made a report unless they are court ordered.

Explain, as well as you can, what happened or is happening to the child. Describe the nature of the abuse or neglect and the involved parties. Be as specific as possible. Be prepared to give the name, address, and telephone number of the child and also the name of the parent or caregiver, if known. Even if you do not know all of this information, report what you do know. Tell all you know about the situation.

Privacy Laws

If you learn about abuse or neglect from an education record of a matriculated student, a medical record, or from a patient in a healthcare setting, various privacy laws may affect your ability to make a report to CPS or law enforcement. If you have questions about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or state medical records laws, please contact UW-Madison Office of Legal Affairs at 608-263-7400.

Additional Campus Reporting Requirement

In addition to notifying Child Protective Services or law enforcement, the reporter must also notify the UW–Madison Office of Youth Protection and Compliance (OYPC) if either of the following apply:

  • The incident or threat of child abuse or neglect involves an allegation against a university employee or an agent of the university (e.g. a student or volunteer).
  • The incident or threat of child abuse or neglect occurred on the UW–Madison campus or during a UW–Madison sponsored activity.

Report to OYPC

Send an email to incidents@precollege.wisc.edu and include the following information:

  1. The name of the minor who has been or may be abused or neglected
  2. Your name and, if applicable, the name of the youth program or activity that you are involved in
  3. The date that the incident of abuse or neglect occurred (or suspected or threatened to occur)
  4. The location where the abuse or neglect occurred (or suspected or threatened to occur)
  5. The date that you reported the incident or suspicion to authorities
  6. The sheriff, local police, or CPS agency that you made the initial report to (for example, UWPD or Dane County CPS)

This additional report is maintained in a secure location, and the confidentiality of the reporter shall be maintained to the extent permitted by law or university policy.

Training and Resources

Online Training

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect (OYPC) is required for UW–Madison employees and volunteers who work in youth programs and is recommended for all employees who interact with minors. This course is offered as a partnership between OYPC and the Office of Human Resources.

This course takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

Enroll in Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect (OYPC)

Questions?

You may ask questions about your duty to report child abuse or neglect in order to determine if a report is necessary. However, do not delay making a report in order to wait for answers. If you are unsure about making a report, please contact either of the following:

UW–Madison Police Department
608-264-2677 (available 24 hours)

Dane County Child Protective Services (CPS)
Office hours: 608-261-KIDS or 608-261-5437
After hours: 608-255-6067

If you have general questions about Mandatory Reporting training, other reporting obligations, or your responsibilities as a UW–Madison employee or volunteer, contact:

Office of Youth Protection and Compliance (OYPC)
Send email to compliance@precollege.wisc.edu

If you have questions about identifying sexual abuse of a minor, contact:

Office of Compliance
Send email to TitleIX_Coordinator@wisc.edu

Additional Resources

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