In Washington, and throughout the United States, there are many people who hold positions of authority or supervision over your child. In certain situations, the actions of such people might intersect with legal issues that your family is experiencing, if you have a teenager who is facing criminal charges. It’s not uncommon for juveniles who commit crimes to have underlying or co-existing health issues in their lives. Mandatory reporting often brings such issues to light.
A mandatory reporter is someone who is required, by law, to report suspected abuse. Not only is this requirement relevant to juveniles but also to vulnerable adults, as well. A mandatory reporter is also under obligation to report a death, particularly if the decedent was a vulnerable adult who may have suffered fatality through abuse.
Which people in your child’s life are mandatory reporters?
Various adults who might interact with your teenager on a regular basis might be among those legally considered mandatory reporters. Adults who are typically obligated to fulfill this role include teachers, coaches and other school officials. Washington law enforcement officers and social workers are also mandatory reporters, as well as employees of the Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS), facility administrators, healthcare workers and medical examiners and coroners.
A mandatory reporter is not obligated to report suspected incidents of self-neglect or abuse. However, they are under strong encouragement to do so, especially for a vulnerable adult who may be at risk.
What if someone fails to file a mandatory report or files a false one?
Not filing a mandatory report when one is obligated to do so is a gross misdemeanor crime. If a mandatory reporter files a falsified report, he or she will also likely face criminal charges.
In certain situations, one must call in a mandatory report to law enforcement officials, as well as to DSHS. It is up to a mandatory reporter to be aware of and to carry out his or her responsibilities.
When mandatory reporting intersects with juvenile crime issues
There are two types of scenarios that may unfold regarding mandatory reporting and a juvenile in your home. In one case, your teenage son or daughter might be under suspicion of abuse against another person. In another situation, a mandatory reporter might claim to have evidence that your child is a victim of abuse.
It’s a fact that many juvenile offenders have co-occurring issues, such as drug addiction, mental health or depression. It is also possible that such issues stem from underlying issues of unreported abuse in a juvenile’s life. If your child is facing legal problems, it may be helpful to speak with mandatory reporters, counselors or legal advocates who may be able to provide support to help get things back on track in your son’s or daughter’s life.