DCFS stresses the importance of reporting suspected child abuse - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

DCFS stresses the importance of reporting suspected child abuse

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(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

Martin Ceasar, a child welfare specialist with the Department of Children and Family Services in Lake Charles, says every adult should feel an obligation to report something they see as suspicious when referring to suspected child abuse or neglect. 

"I believe that it becomes our moral obligation to look out for those who cannot look out for themselves," Ceasar said.

While every adult can't be held responsible for speaking up or not, there are a few who can. They are known as mandatory reporters and include people in professions like child healthcare, education or children's extra-curricular activities. 

"Just an array of people who's job or profession brings them into routine contact with minor aged children," Ceasar explained.

It's these mandatory reporters who, if they don't report cases that turn out to be child abuse, can be held criminally responsible. 

"There is a fine of $500 and/or six months of imprisonment for the failure to report the abuse or neglect of minor aged children," said Ceasar. 

A new law that went into effect in August requires mandatory reporters to undergo special training. Ceasar said to make it easy and accessible, mandatory reporters can access the training online, where they learn about some of the things to look out for like behavioral and physical changes. 

"Any suspicious or unusual markings that may be on a child that may not be consistent with the injury," Ceasar said are signs something may be wrong.  

Why aren't all suspected cases of child abuse reported? Ceasar said there are a number of potential possibilities.  

"Often times I think that there's a fear of not having all the facts," Ceasar said. "Some do not report for fear of criminal or civil liability."

Ceasar adds that you don't have to be a court mandated reporter or undergo special training to report something you may see as suspicious. To contact the Department of Children and Family Services, you can visit their website here for the appropriate location information.  

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