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Below is a list of questions frequently asked by individuals considering reporting:

Always report Suspected Abuse

Who is Responsible for Reporting Child Abuse?

Reporting Suspected child abuse is a community responsibility.

Protecting children from abuse is a community responsibility. A concerned neighbor, friend, witness, or bystander who reports suspected harm to a child may be the first person to put the child into the system where appropriate help is available.  Also, Health Care providers, school employees and administrators,

childcare, Social Services, Law Enforcement, Spiritual Leaders, and Adults are considered mandated reporters.  Are you a Mandated or a Permissive Reporter? Please consider each of the categories of mandated reporters that were previously presented before concluding that you are not a mandated reporter. 

If you are not a mandated reporter, you are considered a permissive reporter. 

How Do You Report Child Abuse?

Both Mandated and Permissive reporters should make reports to suspected child abuse to ChildLine in which States the child lives by telephone.

ChildLine (1-800-932-0313) is Pennsylvania’s hotline for reporting suspected child abuse. Its mission is to accept calls from the public and professional sources 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 Each States has a ChildLine for reporting suspected child abuse. ChildLine accept reports of suspected abuse and neglect and refers reports of suspected abuse and neglect to the appropriate investigating agency to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. ChildLine also refers cases indicating that a child may be in need of other services to the proper county agency to assess the needs of the child.

What is a Reasonable Cause to Suspect That a Child is Being Abused?

Reasonable cause to suspect is more than a hunch. It is a determination you make, based on your knowledge of circumstances, your observations, your familiarity with the individuals, and your feelings about the incident.
The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) states that a person only needs to have “reasonable cause to suspect” a child is a victim of abuse to make a report.

What if I am not sure whether the signs I see indicate abuse?

Report to ChildLine. You only need to have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of abuse. Once a report is received, specially trained child welfare professionals determine whether the child is a victim of abuse and what action is necessary to ensure a child’s safety and well-being. 

Is Child Abuse Damaging?

We know that child abuse is damaging and can have long-lasting effects on its victims. This does not mean they are forever damaged. Many children who are abused move on to live happily and fulfilled lives. The incredible resilience that children have allows them to do so. That is why it is so important that we do what we can to recognize when children are experiencing abuse and trauma and report it.

How Does Trauma Affect a Child’s Development and Behavior?

The effects of trauma can be long-lasting. A report from Child Welfare Information Gateway explains that children who experience child abuse and neglect can suffer from the following long-term effects:

Physical health

  • Chronic health conditions

  • Impaired brain development


  • Poor emotional health

  • Cognitive difficulties

  • Social difficulties


  • Delinquency and criminality

  • Substance abuse

  • Abusive behavior

How Effective is  Early Reporting?

The sooner the child abuse is identified and reported, the earlier child welfare professionals can take steps to help children and families minimize the long-term effects. Early detection can also help avoid additional incidents of child abuse and traumatization.

What if My Question(s) Was Not Answered Here?

If you still have questions after reading this frequently asked question list, please email

We all share responsibility for protecting the women and children of our community from harm. Taking responsibility by reporting suspected child abuse is an important means to keep all children safe, and may also serve to connect families in need to crucial services and support.

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