Abusing a child in any form—whether it be physical, psychological, or sexual—is a crime without a doubt. However, it’s crucial to know whether failing to report one is considered an offense as well.
If you suspect that a child is being abused, you may feel compelled to speak up. At the same time, you may also feel fear of the perpetrator. You may also be in a certain circumstance that makes it difficult for you to blow the whistle.
To help you out, here are some essential points you must know when it comes to reporting child abuse.
The Role of Mandated Reporters
The truth of the matter is that there are factors that determine whether failing to report child abuse is a crime or not.
In Massachusetts, some individuals are commanded to speak up about child abuse because of their profession. Referred to as Mandated Reporters, they include the following:
- Foster parents
- Teachers and school personnel
- Child care providers
- Social workers
- Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel
- Police and other law enforcement officers
Failure to report child abuse as a mandated reporter is an offense. You may be charged with a misdemeanor and even face a fine worth $1,000. With that said, a criminal attorney in Boston, MA can advise you on the best way to proceed after you are charged.
If you are not a mandated reporter, failure to report child abuse in Massachusetts will not be charged as a crime. However, it’s worth noting that every case is unique. Depending on the context of the case, it may be considered a criminal offense.
For example, in the Larry Nassar case, victims have petitioned for the criminal punishment of the individuals who failed to report the abuse of hundreds of young girls. State legislators in Michigan (where the victims were abused) proposed several bills to increase penalties for it. Their bills also proposed to raise failure to report child abuse from being a misdemeanor offense to a felony.
With all of that said, it is still best to report such a crime if you suspect or are aware of one. Letting authorities know of a child abuse case is the right thing to do. Fortunately, in Massachusetts, you can report the mistreatment through an anonymous report to protect yourself.
What Constitutes Child Abuse
In the state, child abuse is defined as “the non-accidental commission of any act by a caretaker upon a child under age 18 which causes, or creates a substantial risk of, physical or emotional injury; or constitutes a sexual offense under the laws of the Commonwealth; or any sexual contact between a parent/guardian/caretaker and a child under 18.”
Child abuse can occur both at home and in other environments. Furthermore, it can include exposing a child to domestic violence or any form of physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment.
Your prompt action in reporting child abuse can go a long way in saving a young person’s life.
Child abuse is a serious crime; however, failing to report one can also be a punishable offense. If you are a mandated reporter yet have not disclosed an abuse you know of or suspect, you may face charges and penalties. However, if you are not any of the professionals listed earlier, you will not be specifically charged with a misdemeanor. Despite this, it helps to remember that letting authorities know of any mistreatment is still the right thing to do.
If you need the expertise of a criminal defense attorney in Boston, MA, do not hesitate to consult us at The Fernandez Firm. We will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for you to protect your criminal record and your future. Get in touch with us at +1 (617) 393-0250 for a free consultation.