Reporting abuse and neglect
All citizens have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Members of the general public may report suspected abuse and neglect if they choose.
Oregon state law, however, mandates that workers in certain professions must make reports if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect. These people are called mandatory reporters and they are a crucial link in the system to protect Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens.
All employees of the Oregon Department of Human Services are mandatory reporters. These individuals are required to report because they have frequent contact with at-risk populations – infants and children, people who are elderly or dependent, individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities, and residents of nursing homes and other health care facilities.
Various laws covering these populations offer differing definitions of abuse and different penalties for failing to report. But there is a lot of common ground such as any evidence of physical injury, neglect, sexual or emotional abuse, or financial exploitation.
By law, mandatory reporters must report suspected abuse or neglect of a child regardless of whether or not the knowledge of the abuse was gained in the reporter’s official capacity. In other words, the mandatory reporting of abuse or neglect of children is a 24-hour obligation.
Mandatory reporters, while acting in an official capacity, who come in contact with an elderly or developmentally disabled adult they suspect have been abused or neglected, must report to DHS or law enforcement.
Who are mandatory reporters?
Medical personnel: Physicians, psychiatrists, surgeons, residents, interns, dentists, dentist hygienists, medical examiners, pathologists, osteopaths, coroners, Christian Science practitioners, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, naturopathic physicians, registered and licensed practical nurses, emergency medical technicians, substance abuse treatment personnel, hospital administrators, physical, speech and occupational therapists, and other personnel involved in the examination, care or treatment of patients.
School and child care personnel: Teachers, school personnel, educational advocates assigned to a child pursuant to the School Code, truant officers, directors and staff assistants of day care centers and nursery schools.
Public employees: Members of the Legislative Assembly, employees of the State Commission on Children and Families, the Child Care Division of the Employment Department, the Oregon Youth Authority, a county health department, a community mental health and developmental disabilities program, a county juvenile department, and all DHS employees.
Law Enforcement: Truant officers, probation officers, law enforcement officers, and field personnel of the Department of Corrections.
Others: Psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, members of the clergy, attorneys, firefighters, court appointed special advocates, registered or certified child care providers, and foster care providers and their employees.
Changes to Mandatory Reporting Law: The Oregon legislature does make periodic changes to the state's mandatory reporting law. For example, HB 4016 (Effective January 1, 2013) adds an employee of a higher education institution, as well as physical, speech or occupational therapist, to the list of public or private officials required to report child abuse to law enforcement or the Department of Human Services. To get the current list of mandatory reporters and for the definition of child abuse, please see the Oregon Child Abuse Reporting Law.