As a student going into the professional field of mental health counseling, it is highly likely that I will be working with children thus making me a mandated reporter for child abuse. And in all likelihood, I will have to make a few phone calls to Child Protective Services to report known or suspected child abuse, neglect or maltreatment.

Now, since I am a mandated reporter, there are proper procedures I have to follow when making a report. For example, I can’t simply make a phoned-in report and leave it at that – I have to follow up with an extensive written report and submit it within 48 hours of the initial call. And any evidence or REASONABLE CAUSE to SUSPECT (not even known abuse) that abuse or neglect may be occurring must be reported. If you’re unsure if you should file a report, talk it over with other mandated reporters like school bus drivers, police officers, school staff…etc. But a good rule of thumb is: If in doubt, report. 

(You can learn more about the procedures for reporting and what is required by a mandated reporter at both the link provided above and during the NYS Mandated Child Abuse Prevention Seminar that you have to take to graduate from the SAC/CMHC Programs.)

That being said, not everyone is a New York State mandated reporter, and thus doesn’t HAVE to report nor be as exhaustive with the process. However, I do believe that it is an ethical obligation as sentient and compassionate beings to report such instances or suspected occurrences.

So, for your information, the list that follows contains some common indicators of abuse or maltreatment. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive, and some abused or maltreated children may not show any of these symptoms.

Indicators of Physical Abuse can include:

  • Injuries to the eyes or both sides of the head or body (accidental injuries typically only affect one side of the body);
  • Frequently appearing injuries such as bruises, cuts and/or burns, especially if the child is unable to provide an adequate explanation of the cause. These may appear in distinctive patterns such as grab marks, human bite marks, cigarette burns or impressions of other instruments;
  • Destructive, aggressive or disruptive behavior;
  • Passive, withdrawn or emotionless behavior; and
  • Fear of going home or fear of parent(s).

Indicators of Sexual Abuse can include:

  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Injury to genital area;
  • Difficulty and/or pain when sitting or walking;
  • Sexually suggestive, inappropriate or promiscuous behavior or verbalization;
  • Expressing age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual relations; and
  • Sexual victimization of other children.

Indicators of Maltreatment can include:

  • Obvious malnourishment, listlessness or fatigue;
  • Stealing or begging for food;
  • Lack of personal care – poor personal hygiene, torn and/or dirty clothes;
  • Untreated need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention;
  • Frequent absence from or tardiness to school; and
  • Child inappropriately left unattended or without supervision.


Be a volunteer reporter  – a concerned neighbor – for the safety of our community’s children – whether your chosen career mandates it or not. Call 1-800-342-3720 to report what you’ve seen or heard. If nothing else, you’ll know you did your part to protect the community and CPS will take care of the rest.

With hope,