April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

There will be community events and public education efforts throughout the month of April to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect throughout the 11th Judicial District.

As a member of Fremont County’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), a multi-disciplinary body dedicated to improving services and outcomes for sexual assault victims, including children, I would like to spend a moment reminding community members to speak up about child abuse and neglect.

At the District Attorney’s Office, we are personally invested in protecting children who are abused and neglected. We recognize that children cannot protect themselves. The vast majority of physical and sexual abuse suffered by children is perpetrated by family members or other adult authority figures in a child’s life. As a result, child abuse and neglect is underreported and under recognized. Colorado’s mandatory reporting laws provide that “the complete reporting of child abuse is a matter of public concern,” and impose a duty by law on many professionals to report suspected abuse and neglect. (CRS 19-3-302).

As prosecutors and victim advocates, it is our mission to educate mandatory reporters in our communities about the position of trust they hold, and to encourage full compliance with Colorado’s mandatory reporting laws. As those responsible in the aftermath, we feel compelled to remind mandatory reporters that a failure to report endangers children; and a delayed report endangers children.

Who is required to report abuse and neglect? (CRS 19-3-304)

Physician or surgeon, including a physician in training; Child health associate; Medical examiner or coroner; Dentist; Osteopath; Optometrist; Chiropractor; Podiatrist; Registered nurse or licensed practical nurse; Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, care, or treatment of patients; Christian science practitioner; Public or private school official or employee; Social worker; Mental health professional; Dental hygienist; Psychologist; Physical therapist; Veterinarian; Peace officer Pharmacist; Commercial film and photographic print processor; Firefighter; Victim's advocate; Licensed professional counselors; Licensed marriage and family therapists; Registered psychotherapists; Clergy member (only applies when Clergy learn information independent of privileged communications); Registered dietitian; Worker in the state department of human services; Juvenile parole and probation officers; Child and family investigators; Officers and agents of the state bureau of animal protection, and animal control officers; The child protection ombudsman; Educator providing services through a federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children; Director, coach, assistant coach, or athletic program personnel employed by a private sports organization or program;

Person who is registered as a psychologist candidate, marriage and family therapist candidate, or licensed professional counselor candidate; Emergency medical service providers.
When do I have to report? (CRS 19-3-304)

A mandatory reporter is required to report when he or she “has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect shall immediately upon receiving such information report or cause a report to be made of such fact to the county department, the local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system.”

How do I report? (CRS 19-3-307)

“Reports of known or suspected child abuse or neglect made pursuant to this article shall be made immediately to the county department, the local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system . . . and shall be followed promptly by a written report prepared by those persons required to report.”

What is the definition of a child? (CRS 19-1-103)

"Child" means a person under eighteen years of age.

What if I fail to report? (CRS 19-3-304)

Any person who willfully violates the mandatory reporting laws commits a class 3 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S.; and shall be liable for damages proximately caused thereby.

Will I get in trouble for reporting? (CRS 19-3-309)

Immunity from liability - persons reporting

Any person, other than the perpetrator, complicitor, coconspirator, or accessory, participating in good faith in the making of a report, in the facilitation of the investigation of such a report, or in a judicial proceeding held pursuant to this title, the taking of photographs or X rays, or the placing in temporary protective custody of a child . . . shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, or termination of employment that otherwise might result by reason of such acts of participation, unless a court of competent jurisdiction determines that such person's behavior was willful, wanton, and malicious. For the purpose of any proceedings, civil or criminal, the good faith of any such person reporting child abuse, any such person taking photographs or X rays, and any such person who has legal authority to place a child in protective custody shall be presumed.

Contact information to report suspected abuse and neglect:

Fremont County Department of Human Services
The Department accepts reports of known or suspected abuse or neglect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. To make a report call:

During normal business hours: (719) 275-2318, ask for Child Welfare.

To report emergencies after hours, holidays and weekends: (719) 285-2000, ask for the on-call child welfare social worker

New State Child Welfare Hotline Number
The Colorado Department of Human Services has launched a new statewide child abuse and neglect hotline:

1-844-CO4-KIDS
(1-844-264-5437)

Fremont County Sheriff’s Office 719-276-5555

Canon City Police Department 719-276-5600

Florence Police Department<.strong> 719-784-3411

Sincerely,
Molly Chilson
District Attorney, 11th Judicial District of Colorado