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Section 4
Provisions and Responsibilities for
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

Question 4 | Test | Table of Contents

Under the Pennsylvania law, any individual may make a report of suspected child abuse. This allows any individual, specifically those who work closely with children, to make a report if and when they may suspect that a child may have been or is being abused. There are two general types of child abuse reporters: permissive reporters and mandated reporters.


A permissive reporter is not required by Pennsylvania law to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect; however, they are still encouraged to make a report of child abuse if they have any suspicions. Permissive reporters who want to make a report of child abuse are able to do so by calling the Pennsylvania child abuse hotline and registry, or ChildLine. Permissive reporters are not required to complete a written follow-up report after making the report of suspected child abuse [30].

Permissive reporters are able to make a report of suspected child abuse at any time that they have a suspicion that a child is the victim of child abuse. Permissive reporters are not required to know for sure if a child has been abused, but if they suspect that a child has been abused, they are able to make a report. If, on the other hand, they have any concerns that are related to the safety and well-being of a child, including inadequate housing, clothing, and supervision, then it can be referred to either the ChildLine hotline or the county’s children and youth agency so an assessment can be done under general protective services instead of child protective services [30].

When it comes to making the report, a permissive reporter does not have to be able to determine whether or not an individual meets the definition of a perpetrator under the Pennsylvania law in order for a report to be made. Permissive reporters are not required to give their name when they file reports, however, it could be helpful to the caseworker if they need to contact the reporter in order to get clarification on the particular situation or if additional information is needed [30].

Some examples of permissive reporters include:
• Friends
• Neighbors
• Relatives
• Bystanders

30. "Permissive Reporter Frequently Asked Questions." Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. 13 July 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Blasbalg, U., Hershkowitz, I., & Karni-Visel, Y. (2018). Support, reluctance, and production in child abuse investigative interviews. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 24(4), 518–527.

Calheiros, M. M., Garrido, M. V., Ferreira, M. B., & Duarte, C. (2020). Laypeople’s decision-making in reporting child maltreatment: Child and family characteristics as a source of bias. Psychology of Violence. Advance online publication.

Kenny, M. C., Abreu, R. L., Marchena, M. T., Helpingstine, C., Lopez-Griman, A., & Mathews, B. (2017). Legal and clinical guidelines for making a child maltreatment report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(6), 469–480.

Kim, H., & Maguire-Jack, K. (2021). Longitudinal changes in child maltreatment reports. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(5), 635–646.

What is a permissive reporter? To select and enter your answer go to Test

Section 5
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