Reporting Abuse and Violence

Every person has the moral obligation to prevent or stop abuse and neglect. Florida law specifies that some occupations are required to report it. These occupations are considered "mandatory reporters", and include virtually all health workers. A mandatory reporter is required to give his or her name when making the report. The name is kept confidential, but is entered into the record of the report. The state of Florida provides an abuse hotline for the confidential reporting of abuse to prevent further abuse, neglect, or threatened harm:


Instant Feedback:
Mandatory reporters must give their names when giving a report, but the name will be kept confidential.
True
False

There are statutes that regulate the mandatory reporting of abuse of children and vulnerable adults:


Mandatory reporters of child and vulnerable adult abuse

Occupation
Child
Adult
Assisted living facility staff
X
Adult day care center staff
X
Adult family care home staff
X
Bank, savings, and loan, or credit union officer, trustee, or employee
X
Chiropractor/Chiropractic physician
X
X
Day care center worker
X
Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation employees conducting inspections of public lodging establishments
X
Emergency medical technician (EMT)
X
Florida Advocacy Council member
X
Foster care worker
X
Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of children and vulnerable adults
X
X
Health Professional
X
X
Institutional worker
X
Judge
X
Law enforcement officer
X
Long-term Care Ombudsman Council member
X
Medical examiner
X
X
Mental health professional
X
X
Nurse
X
X
Nursing home staff
X
Osteopath/Osteopathic physician
X
X
Paramedic
X
Physician
X
X
Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing
X
X
Professional adult care, residential, or institutional staff
X
Professional child care worker
X
Residential care worker
X
X
School teacher
X
School official or other school personnel
X
Social worker
X
X
State, county, or municipal criminal justice employee or law enforcement officer
X

Instant Feedback:
In the health professions, only physicians and nurses are mandatory reporters.

True
False


Laws relating to children

Chapter 39 of the Florida Statues mandates that any person who knows, or has cause to suspect, that a child is abused, neglected by a parent, legal custodian, or caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare, shall immediately report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Abuse Hotline or the Department of Children and Families.

In some states, a child's being witness to, or present during, abuse is also cause to report child abuse, but this is not true in the state of Florida. Clearly, there are negative effects on a child who witnesses abuse, but some authorities believe that this type of reporting punishes the victim who may be a good or adequate care provider for the children. However, if criminal proceedings are brought against an individual for domestic violence, and that violence was perpetrated in the presence of a child under 16 years old, who is a family household member with the victim or perpetrator, the sentencing points (calculated by a number of factors) are multiplied by 1.5.


Instant Feedback:
Children in Florida must be reported to the Department of Children and Families if they have been witness to domestic/intimate partner violence.

True
False

Laws relating to vulnerable adults

Chapter 415 of the Florida Statues mandates that the Department of Children and Families also provide services to detect and correct abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults who, because of their age or disability, may be unable to adequately provide for their own care or protection. Florida has many retirement communities and a large population of older adults, many who are vulnerable because of age and increasing disability. They may be dependent on others for care and support. Additionally, there are 60,000 people, aged 18 through 59, in Florida who have at least 3 severe deficiencies of daily living caused by disabilities. Through case management and various in-home services, many of these individuals are maintained at home or in assisted living facilities. Because they may not be able to self-report abuse, they are particularly vulnerable.


Instant Feedback:
Vulnerable adults include the elderly and the disabled.

True
False

Laws relating to adults in general

Florida Statute 790.24 requires any physician, nurse, or employee of a hospital, sanitarium, clinic, or nursing home treating or receiving a request for treatment must report immediately to local law enforcement any gunshot wound or life-threatening injury indicating an act of violence. Any person willfully failing to report such treatment or request therefor is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082 or 775.083. Most injuries associated with domestic violence are less severe and not covered by 790.24.

A competent individual has a right to privacy and self-determination. Therefore, in Florida a health care provider may not report domestic violence without informed consent, even if the victim admits to it. However, the victim of domestic violence should be counseled to report the incident to law enforcement and referred for guidance and support to a local Domestic Violence Advocacy organization. The health care provider should adhere to their facility policy and procedures when counseling a victim of domestic violence.

Note: Reporting suspected domestic violence without informed consent is considered unethical in the state of Florida and may leave the healthcare provider who reported the violence open to civil action.


Instant Feedback:
If a person comes to the emergency department with a fractured arm from an episode of domestic/intimate partner violence, this incident needs to be reported to the authorities.
True
False

Making a report

Everyone, including mandatory reporters, should call the Florida Abuse Hotline when s/he needs to report abuse of a child or vulnerable adult. The Abuse Hotline counselor will determine if the caller meets legal requirements to initiate an investigation. There are 3 ways to report:

While a reporter may not know all pertinent information, the following information can facilitate an investigation:

If making a call and the line is busy, the reporter may have to wait for a few minutes. However, if the situation is an emergency and the victim is in imminent danger, the caller should hang up, dial 911, report a need for assistance, and then follow-up with a call to the Abuse Hotline. Mandatory reporters are required to give their names to the Abuse Hotline counselors.

Reporters should document the first name of the counselor and his or her identification number and the date and time of the call. The counselor should inform the reporter if the report meets the statutory requirements for a report and whether an investigation will be initiated. The counselor will also provide information on available services.

If sending a FAX, it is best to use the form provided by the Department of Children and Families. If the form is not available, the report should be as detailed as possible, including all names, addresses, telephone numbers, and pertinent information. The report should be written typed or written legibly. It should not contain profession-specific abbreviations or terminology (e.g. “fx” instead of fracture). No medical notes, case files, or arrest reports should be included. Since the time required to send a FAX is often longer than the time to telephone, telephone calls should be used to report all emergency or critical situations.


Instant Feedback:
Reporters should document the first name and identification number of the Abuse Hotline counselor.
True
False


Please visit the website of Florida Department of Children and Families for more "tips" on reporting, and using the Fax form below.

 



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