Protocol for Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect
Under Virginia law all Washington and Lee employees (including student employees) eighteen years of age or older must report child abuse and/or neglect that they suspect or become aware of in connection with any University activities and operations, whether the abuse or neglect is believed to have occurred on or off campus.
This policy applies to all Washington and Lee University employees (including student employees) who are eighteen years of age or older.
Under Virginia law, commencing July 1, 2012, all Washington and Lee employees (including student employees) eighteen years of age or older must report child abuse and/or neglect that they suspect or become aware of in connection with any University activities and operations, whether the abuse or neglect is believed to have occurred on or off campus. Child abuse and neglect includes physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional/mental abuse. Child abuse and neglect occurs in all cultural, ethnic, occupational, and socioeconomic groups and W&L employees now have a mandatory reporting obligation if they have reason to believe abuse or neglect is or has occurred.
Specifically, when an employee has "reason to suspect that a child is an abused or neglected child," the employee must make a report as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours after "reasonable suspicion" arises, to the Office of Public Safety, which will then make a report to the Department of Social Services toll-free hotline or the local Social Services office. The Office of Public Safety contact information is as follows:
- Office of Public Safety: (540) 458-8999
The Office of Public Safety shall keep a log of any such reports, including the identity of the person filing the report, the date and time of the report, all facts and information concerning the incident(s) giving rise to the report, and the date and time the report is filed with the State or local Department of Social Services.
If an employee is unable to reach the Office of Public Safety, s/he may alternatively report the suspected abuse to one of the following:
(i) The local department of Social Services in the city where the child lives or the city where the abuse/neglect is believed to have occurred;
Rockbridge - Buena Vista - Lexington Area Social Services
Meredith Downey, Director
20 E. Preston St.
Lexington, VA 24450
Phone: (540) 463-7143
Fax: (540) 464-9110
(ii) The Virginia Department of Social Services' toll-free child abuse/neglect hotline: 1-800-552-7096.
If an employee reports to the State or Local Department of Social Services, s/he must also provide the same information to Public Safety as soon as possible.
PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT: Any individual who fails to report suspected child abuse and neglect within twenty-four (24) hours of first suspicion is subject to criminal fines and jail time.
IMMUNITY FOR GOOD FAITH REPORTING: Any individual who makes a good faith report of suspected child abuse or neglect will avoid criminal or civil liability.
The Commonwealth Department of Social Services has online training available to mandated reporters on how to recognize, identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect. PLEASE SEE:
- CWS 5691 - Child Abuse & Neglect: Recognizing, Reporting, & Responding (for educators) (Web page)
- Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse & Neglect (guide) (PDF)
Revised August 2013 to update Ethan Kipnes as Director of Public Safety.