Reporting Child Abuse

This policy addresses Swarthmore College employee obligations when child abuse is suspected and describes when and how employees should make a mandatory report.

In accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. 6301), any Swarthmore College employee, who has reasonable cause to suspect abuse of a child that the employee has come into contact with during the course of employment, must make a report to the appropriate officials.

A "child" is any individual under 18 years of age.

Who Must Report

Employees who, during the course of their employment, come into contact with children are required to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of a college program or activity, is an abused child.

At Swarthmore College, employees obligated to report child abuse would include, but not be limited to, administrators, professors, CAPS or student health personnel, public safety officers, campus security authorities, and employees who may come into contact with children through camps, athletic activities, service learning programs, academic or enrichment programs, or other college programs. If your job responsibility is not specifically listed here, but you encounter children in the course of your employment with the college, you have a mandatory reporting obligation.

All other members of the Swarthmore College community (students, visitors, guests, etc.) are strongly encouraged to report whenever child abuse is suspected.

What Must Be Reported

You must report child abuse you have reasonable cause to suspect. Child abuse means non-accidental actions or omissions that cause, or create the imminent risk of, serious physical or mental injuries to a child, or sexual abuse/sexual exploitation of a child. This includes:

  • Physical Abuse: recent acts or omissions that cause, or fail to prevent, a serious physical injury to a child.
  • Sexual Abuse: this includes rape, sexual assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, or exploiting a child in a manner in which the child is used for gratification or sexual enjoyment by another person.
  • Emotional or Mental Abuse: actions or omissions that have an actual or likely severe negative impact on a child's emotional and behavioral development, including those resulting from persistent or severe emotional mistreatment.
  • Neglect: serious physical neglect that endangers a child's life or physical/emotional development, or impairs a child's ability to function with their basic needs met.

How to Make a Report

It is not required that you obtain proof that actual abuse has occurred. You must not directly question the child or try to solicit information from the child. Any uncertainty about whether abuse has actually occurred or not should be resolved in favor of making a report.

Confidentiality of reports

Reports directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's ChildLine and Abuse Registry can be made anonymously. In order to ensure that the college gives the suspected abuse appropriate attention, employees are also required to report suspected abuse internally as described in the following steps. Internal reports will be handled with discretion and in cooperation with the PA Department of Public Welfare or local authorities.


  1. To report suspected abuse if the child is in immediate danger, call x8333 (if on campus) or 911.
  2. To report suspected abuse if the child is not in immediate danger, call:
    • Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety: 610-328-8333; and
    • Swarthmore Borough Police Department: 610-543-0123; or
    • Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's ChildLine at 800-932-0313.
    • If you are a College employee and also a registered medical professional, you may have a concurrent obligation to directly report injuries caused by suspected child abuse to the local or state police.

    The Director of Public Safety will inform the appropriate President's staff members in order to ensure the safety of the Swarthmore College community.

    What to Expect Following Your Internal Report

    After you have made the necessary internal reports, the Director of Public Safety will assume the responsibility and have the obligation to report the suspected child abuse to the Department of Public Welfare. Reports must be made orally, and immediately, to the Department of Public Welfare's ChildLine at (800) 932-0313. The Director of Public Safety will notify the reporting employee to confirm that the initial oral report was made to the ChildLine. If any additional information is required from you, you will be notified accordingly.


    Any person who makes a good faith report of child abuse may not be subjected to retaliation in any form. Retaliation will be considered a violation of College policy and will result in serious disciplinary action, up to or including dismissal.

    If you have any questions about this policy contact:

    Sharmaine LaMar, Assistant VP for Risk Management and Legal Affairs
    Director, Equal Opportunity
    (610) 690-5675