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GEN 1.2.(9). Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect.

 

  1. Background

    The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh prioritizes safety and strives to provide a safe learning environment for everyone. Children come into contact with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh through various programs, camps, and events.

    On December 19, 2011, the Governor signed Executive Order # 54, which provides:

    All University of Wisconsin System (UWS) professors, administrators, coaches, and other UWS employees shall report child abuse or neglect immediately if the employee, in the course of employment, observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or learns of an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, and the employee has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur.
     
  2. Definitions
     
    1. “Abuse” of a child includes any of the following:
       
      1. Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. {Reference: Secs. 48.02 (1)(a), Wis. Stats.} “Physical injury” includes but is not limited to lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm. {Reference: Secs. 48.02 (14g) and 939.22(14), Wis. Stats.}
         
      2. Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 or with a 16 or 17 year-old child without his or her consent. {Reference: Sec. 48.02 (1)(b), Wis. Stats.}
         
      3. Sexual exploitation of a child. Sexual exploitation of a child occurs when a person employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of recording or displaying the conduct or records or displays a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Sexual exploitation of a child also occurs when a person produces, performs in, profits from, promotes, imports into the state, reproduces, advertises, sells, distributes, or possesses with intent to sell or distribute, any recording of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct. {Reference: Secs. 48.02 (1)(c) and 948.05, Wis. Stats.}
         
      4. Permitting, allowing or encouraging a child to violate the statute prohibiting prostitution. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(d) and 944.30, Wis. Stats.}
         
      5. Causing a child to view or listen to sexual activity for purposes of sexual arousal or sexual gratification. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(e) and 948.055, Wis. Stats.}
         
      6. Exposing genitals or pubic area to a child or exposing a child’s genitals or pubic area for purposes of sexual arousal or sexual gratification. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(f) and 948.10, Wis. Stats.}
         
      7. Manufacturing methamphetamine with a child present, or in a child’s home (including the premises of a child’s home or in a motor vehicle located on the premises of a child’s home), or under any other circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that the manufacture would be seen, smelled, or heard by a child. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(g) and 961.41(1)(e), Wis. Stats.}
         
      8. Emotional damage for which the child’s parent, guardian or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable for reasons other than poverty to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(gm), Wis. Stats.} “Emotional damage” is defined as harm to a child’s psychological or intellectual functioning and is evidenced by one or more of the following characteristics exhibited to a severe degree: anxiety, depression, withdrawal; outward aggressive behavior; or a substantial and observable change in behavior, emotional response or cognition that is not within the normal range for the child’s age and stage of development. {Reference: Secs. 48.02(1)(5j), Wis. Stats.}
         
    2. “Child” is a person who is less than 18 years of age. {Reference: Sec. 48.02(2), Wis. Stats.}
       
    3. “Employee” is any UW Oshkosh employee.
       
    4. “Neglect” is failure, refusal or inability on the part of a caregiver, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child. {Reference: Sec. 48.02(12g), Wis. Stats.}
       
  3. Reporting Requirements
     
    1. Executive Order # 54 requires that University of Wisconsin Oshkosh employees make a report of child abuse or neglect immediately if, in the course of employment, a UW Oshkosh employee observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or learns of an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, and the employee has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur. {Reference: Executive Order #54, par. 1.}
       
    2. This policy hereby establishes the requirements that volunteers and contractors performing services for UW Oshkosh abide by the same reporting obligations as employees (as stated in Section 3.A, immediately above) to the maximum extent feasible.
       
    3. Collecting additional information that is readily available (such as talking to coworkers who also interact with that child) or verifying that the information learned meets the criteria for reporting may be appropriate, but any such action must be conducted promptly. Those who are required to report should not delay making a report in order to gather evidence; the agency receiving the report will determine whether such an investigation is warranted. It is the policy of UW Oshkosh that all individuals subject to the reporting requirement should first discuss the matter with their immediate supervisor or the coordinator of the activity or event associated with the matter being reported. These issues should be discussed with the appropriate administrative and managerial leaders, up to the level of the Vice Chancellor, or equivalent position, at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. These discussions must take place immediately so an individual is not delayed in making a report; an individual may not delay making a report on the basis that his/her immediate supervisor or the coordinator of the activity or event is unavailable.
       
    4. A report must be made personally or by telephone to the county department of social services or the county department of human services, or to law enforcement (county sheriff or the city, village, town, or university police department). Inquiries may be presented to the Department of Human Services for Winnebago County, 220 Washington Avenue, P.O. Box 2187, Oshkosh, WI 54903-2187; telephone: (920) 236-4600; website: http://www.co.winnebago.wi.us/human-services.

      Please note: Direct contact for Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: (920) 236-4615. Additional contact information:
       
      1. UW Oshkosh Police Department: emergency (920) 424-1212; non-emergency (920) 424-1216
         
      2. City of Oshkosh Police Department: emergency 911; non-emergency (920) 236-5700.
         
      3. Winnebago County Sheriff: emergency 911; non-emergency (920) 236-7300.
         
    5. Executive Order #54 does not specifically address whether an employee must report information learned about an adult who was the victim of childhood abuse or neglect. Because making such a report may raise issues relating to state and federal law and professional codes of ethics, before making any report involving an adult who was the victim of child abuse or neglect, reporting individuals or the appropriate supervisors at UW Oshkosh may discuss these requirements with the Office of General Counsel at the University of Wisconsin System at (608) 262-2995.
       
    6. Child abuse or neglect involving UW Oshkosh includes:
       
      1. An allegation against a UW Oshkosh employee, student, agent, volunteer, or contractor, or
         
      2. The suspected child abuse or neglect occurred in or at UW Oshkosh facilities or on UW Oshkosh land, or
         
      3. The suspected child abuse or neglect occurred during or in connection with a UW Oshkosh sponsored activity.
         
      4. Note: If the reported abuse or neglect involves UW Oshkosh, then it must also be reported to a Dean, Director, Division Head, or the Office of Equity and Diversity Services (or other appropriate office). Any employee must discuss and may request assistance from his or her supervisor in making this report. The Dean, Director, or Division Head must report the abuse to the UW Oshkosh police department, if it involves potential criminal conduct, and the Office of Equity and Affirmative Action, if it involves any potential sexual misconduct. Since applicable laws and policies can pose difficult questions or interpretation, the appropriate supervisory or managerial personnel at UW Oshkosh may discuss the allegation with legal counsel. For more information, please contact the Office of General Counsel at the University of Wisconsin System at (608) 262-2995.
         
    7. A UW Oshkosh employee who is a mandatory reporter by profession under Wis. Stat. § 48.981(2), e.g., health practitioner, social worker, law enforcement officer, child care provider, must continue to comply with the state mandatory reporter law requirements.
       
    8. UW Oshkosh employees shall share information regarding suspected child abuse or neglect with their supervisor and this information may only be shared additionally with appropriate individuals, such as the agencies to whom reports are to be made, appropriate University officials, and co-workers when the employee is promptly seeking additional information for a report. Beyond appropriate disclosures, employees should treat the information as sensitive and confidential.
       
    9. Appropriate university supervisory personnel with questions regarding the applicability of these requirements to a particular individual or situation should contact the Office of General Counsel at the University of Wisconsin System at (608) 262-2995.
       
  4. Policy Implications and Consequences
     
    1. No UW Oshkosh employee making a report of child abuse or neglect in good faith may be discharged from employment, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against in regard to employment, or threatened with any such treatment because that employee made a report in good faith.
       
    2. These reporting requirements are mandatory, and are not optional. Any UW Oshkosh employee who fails to report suspected child abuse or neglect in violation of this policy is in violation of this requirement and may also be found to be in violation of other applicable and related work rules. Those who fail to comply with this reporting requirement may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
       
  5. Responsibilities of UW Oshkosh
     
    1. Criminal background checks will be performed pursuant to the background check policies for UW Oshkosh, and must be conducted on employees, volunteers, and contractors who have regular contact with children in the course of performing duties or services for UW Oshkosh or in connection with a UW Oshkosh sponsored activity.
       
    2. All contractual arrangements must require the contractor to supply employees that have passed criminal background checks, if such employees will have regular contact with children.
       
    3. To the maximum extent feasible, UW Oshkosh will include, in all written contracts for the provision of services by independent contractors, an obligation to report incidents of child abuse and neglect. Whenever possible, written contracts shall include the following provision (or alternative language as approved by legal counsel):
       
    4. If, in the course of providing services to UW Oshkosh, contractor (or its agent or employee) observes an incident of child abuse or neglect, or learns of an incident of child abuse or neglect and the contractor (or its agent or employee) has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur, contractor (or its agent or employee) must make a report of that child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or to a county social service agency as provided in UW Oshkosh’s Policy on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect. If the suspected child abuse or neglect involves UW Oshkosh (See Section 3.F. of UW Oshkosh’s Policy on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect), the contractor (or its agent or employee) shall also report that abuse to the UW Oshkosh Office of Equity and Affirmative Action.
       
    5. UW Oshkosh employees and volunteers will receive training or education on the subject of child abuse and neglect; this training or education may differ depending upon (1) the type and degree of contact the individual may have with children on campus or (2) other training or education regarding mandatory reporting an individual might receive due to his or her profession.
       
    6. UW Oshkosh employees and volunteers will be informed through handbooks, institutional websites, or other appropriate means about:
       
      1. Executive Order # 54;
         
      2. Institutional policies and procedures;
         
      3. Contact information for the local county department of human services and local law enforcement.
         
    7. UW Oshkosh will provide and/or post information in appropriate areas to notify children who to contact if they are a victim of child abuse or neglect.
       
    8. All documentation related to a UW Oshkosh employee or volunteer report of child abuse or neglect will be filed, stored and maintained in a secure location maintained by the Office of Equity and Affirmative Action.

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