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Resources :: Guide :: Vulnerable and risk sensitive participants :: Risk-sensitive populations :: Child abuse :: Reporting abuse

Reporting Child Abuse

How do I report abuse?
In the 2012 legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation on reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.  Specifically, the law requires "any person employed by a public or private institution of higher education" to report suspected instances of child abuse and neglect.  All University employees are now required to contact local or state Social Services if they see or suspect child abuse or neglect.  This law went into effect July 1, 2012.

University Human Resources has developed a web page that defines child abuse and provides information about how to report an incident. All UVa employees should become familiar with this page but it is particularly relevant to researchers who work directly with children.

Your ethical responsibilities as a researcher are explained in the Belmont Report. In the “Respect for Persons” section, it states that “persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection.” In the “Beneficence” section, it states that “Persons are treated in an ethical manner… by making efforts to secure their well-being.”  In your work with children, please seek to secure their well-being by being aware of their situations and where there may be a potential for harm to them.  Depending on your expertise, it may not be appropriate for you to counsel an abused child or to become involved in the family’s situation; in some cases, inappropriate action may put the child in a dangerous situation.  Please contact the necessary authorities if you are concerned about a child’s safety and seek advice from those who are experienced in handling such situations.

If you are working with a child through a public school, there may be an additional reporting protocol required by the school. Please see the Education: Abuse section for more information.

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