Reporting – When


What is reasonable cause to suspect?

Answer: Many people are unclear what “Reasonable Cause to Suspect Abuse” means. Reasonable Cause to Suspect does not require that you be “certain” that abuse occurred, or that you have evidence or “proof” that abuse occurred. While the law does not define exactly how likely abuse must be before you are required to report, a good rule of thumb is that (in addition to reporting any child whom you believe has been abused/neglected), you should report whenever you have the nagging feeling that abuse/neglect may have happened.

If you’re not sure, asking the right questions will help you decide whether there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse. The following diagram can help you think through these questions, and determine when to report.

Understanding the age of consent in PA (pdf)

What should you know about reporting suspected child abuse? (pdf)

A mandated reporter must make a report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse under any of these circumstances:

  1. You have contact with the child where you work or as part of your professional career (even as an independent contractor), or as a volunteer in a regularly scheduled program, activity or service (e.g. Boy/Girl Scout Leader, youth sports coach, Sunday School teacher).
  2. You are directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child or you are affiliated with an organization or institution, including a church that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of a child. (For example, a supervisor may not be “directly” providing the care or supervision of children, but instead supervises employees or volunteers who are the people responsible for providing the direct care, supervision, etc.).
  3. Someone has specifically told you about an identifiable child who is suspected to be a victim of child abuse. You may learn this information outside your official employment or volunteer duties.
  4. An individual 14 years of age or older specifically told you that the individual has committed child abuse.
To report suspected child abuse, contact CHILDLINE at