If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect
In case of any emergency, dial 911 immediately.
In addition, you must:
1. Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect: 800-792-5200
2. Call the Smith College Campus Police: 413-585-2490
These procedures form part of the Smith College Policy on Safety and Well Being of Minors.
Suspected Child Abuse
Procedures for Mandated Reporters and Designated Persons
All Mandated Reporters and Designated Persons must report suspected child abuse in accordance with State Rules.
Massachusetts law defines several professionals as mandated reporters; the following list includes those professions that a Smith College employee may work in:
- Physicians, nurses; emergency medical technicians,
- Public or private school teachers, educational administrators, guidance or family counselors;
- Early education, preschool, child care or after school program or activity staff
- police officers;
- School attendance officers, allied mental health and licensed human services professionals;
- Psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers, drug and alcoholism counselors;
- Clergy members
Summary from the Massachusetts Department of Child and Family Services
You Can Help
Sometimes people fear that reporting child abuse or neglect will destroy a family. The truth is that getting help can protect children from further harm and assist the family in overcoming problems. Your call to the Child-At-Risk Hotline at 800-792-5200 is important. When you call, a trained hotline worker will ask you for:
- Your name, address and telephone number
- All identifying information you may have about the child, parent and other caretaker, such as name, address, age, and gender of the child
- All identifying information you may have about the parent and/or other caretaker, such as name, address, phone and whether other children live in the home
- The nature and extent of the suspected abuse and/or neglect, including any evidence or knowledge of prior injury, abuse, maltreatment, or neglect; The identity of the person you believe is responsible for the abuse and/or neglect
- The circumstances under which you first became aware of the child’s injuries, abuse, maltreatment or neglect
- What action, if any, has been taken thus far to treat, shelter, or otherwise assist the child
- Any other information you believe might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury and/or person responsible; Any information that could be helpful to DCF staff in making safe contact with an adult victim in situations of domestic violence (e.g., work schedules, place of employment, daily routines)
- Any other information you believe would be helpful in ensuring the child’s safety and/or supporting the family to address the abuse and/or neglect concerns
Responding to a Child Disclosing Abuse
It takes a great deal of courage and trust for a child to disclose that s/he is experiencing abuse or neglect. If a child confides in you, use the following guidelines to respond in a helpful and sensitive way.
- Stay calm and neutral. The child may retract information or stop talking if s/he senses a strong reaction from you.
- Believe the child and be supportive. Children rarely make up stories about abuse.
- Listen without interrogating the child or passing judgment. Most children know their abusers and often have conflicted feelings. Let the child tell the story at his/her own pace.
- Validate the child feelings. Tell the child you are glad s/he told you.
- Assure the child you care and that the abuse or neglect is not his/her fault.
- Find out what the child wants from you.
- Tell the child you must try to get help. You will have to tell someone whose job it is to help kids with these kinds of situations.
- Do not investigate on your own.
- Do not discuss the disclosure with other children or adults other than to call in the report to CFS.
- Call Child-At-Risk Hotline at 800-792-5200 as soon as possible to make a report to the MA Department of Child and Family Services
Please note that all reports are confidential and results of an investigation will not be shared with the reporting individual.
Additional Requirements from Smith’s Procedures
- Record in writing what was said using the child’s own words as soon as possible – note date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
- Provide this statement as well as any additional information that is applicable in a sealed envelope to [who?]. This will not be shared with any other staff member and will be kept in a secure file.
- Report the fact that you have reported an incident of suspected abuse to your supervisor, Campus Police and the Office of Compliance and Risk Management.
Responding to an Accident or Threat
If a child is injured or threatened, proper supervision of the injured child and the group must be maintained at all times. Staff members are not to leave children involved in our programs or activities unattended under any circumstances and should call for immediate help as necessary. The ability to respond to emergencies should be considered when staffing programs and activites.
Interim Safety Measures
In the case of imminent or actual danger to a child, Smith property, or to Smith personnel responsible for a child, Smith Campus Police should be called immediately. Smith Campus Police will take the reasonable steps necessary to prevent any further harm to the child, pending notification of the child’s parents, and/or DCFS and investigation of the incident.
The safety and well-being of the child is the key consideration when deciding what interim safety measure(s) to initiate. If abuse is alleged, or as may be otherwise necessary, Smith Campus Police will coordinate the emergency response with DCFS since DCFS has the statutory responsibility to take custody of the child if it appears that the child would be placed in danger by being returned to his/her parents or guardians.
All accidents and injuries to minors occurring on college property or in college programs or activities, no matter how slight, must be reported to the Program or Activity Supervisor. Campus Police must be notified if the injuries are serious or require transportation to medical facilities, or if the minor is injured on campus, but is not associated with any specific College program or activity (e.g., an unsupervised minor is using the gym).
The Supervisor and/or Campus police will complete a written Incident Report upon learning of the accident or injury, which will be shared with the minor’s parent/guardian. A copy of all written reports of injury must be promptly filed with the Office of Compliance and Risk Management. Individual programs and activites may keep a copy of their report in the child’s or program’s file.
Campus Police or the Office of Risk Management may require supervisors to file additional information regarding any report or incident. Incident Reports may be shared with other College administrators on a need-to-know basis.
College policy shall be followed concerning first aid kits and epinephrine (“epi”) pens. No program or activity is obligated to distribute or administer medications. Participants’ medicines may be distributed by staff, under the following conditions:
- The participant’s family provides the medicine in its original pharmacy container labeled with the participant’s name, medicine name, dosage and timing of consumption. Over-the-counter medications must be provided in their manufacturers’ container.
- Staff shall keep the medicine in a secure location, and at the appropriate time for distribution shall meet with the participant.
- The staff member shall allow the participant to self-administer the appropriate dose as shown on the container.
- Any medicine which the participant cannot self-administer, must be stored and administered by a licensed healthcare professional associated with the campus or, if no one is available, arrangements must be made with another health care professional in advance of the participant’s arrival. The event coordinator should consult with the location’s health service and the Office of Affirmative Action ADA Coordinator to discuss reasonable accommodations in the above situation.
- Personal “epi” pens and inhalers may be carried by the participant during activities.
Periodic Review and Audit
To ensure ongoing compliance with federal and state laws, these procedures will be reviewed annually and updated to reflect any changes in the laws or college policy. A periodic internal audit will also be conducted to ensure that all Smith personnel responsible for the processes described above are applying these policies in a consistent and standard manner as intended.
The Office of Compliance & Risk Management will maintain a database of registered Smith programs/activites and individuals who have begun and/or completed the Child Safety Certification.
Child and Youth Media Instructions
- Always use a parental permission form to obtain consent for a minor to be photographed/videoed.
- Only use images for the purpose approved in the release form. Photographs/videos should only be taken for Smith purposes and may never be used for personal purposes.
- Do not use minors’ names or any other identifying information in photographic captions without written permission.
- No personal and physical information to identify location of a minor or that could put them at risk is to be put on any website or in electronic communications
- Contact with minors on internet/social media platforms must be in-keeping with the above guidelines as well as all Smith policies.