By Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Army Community Service’s Family Advocacy Program representatives are reminding the community of the standard procedure for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect at Fort Leavenworth, including the roles of mandatory reporters, where to report and what to watch for in a potential situation.
Jayne Meath, FAP specialist with ACS, said while everyone should report suspicious activity, there are two types of mandatory reporters on post: a mandatory reporter and a federally mandated reporter.
Both types typically work with children in the medical field or education or as a volunteer,
and both are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Federally mandated reporters, however, are mandatory reporters on post and are required to contact a military reporting point of contact as well as the appropriate Child Protective Services contact.
“That’s the difference between the mandatory reporter off post and the federal (reporter) on post, it’s a law for just the military. Civilians and people off post only have to call 911 or CPS,” Meath said.
Meath said for federally mandated reporters on post, when reporters suspect a pattern of abuse or neglect, they need to call the Military Police Desk at 913-684-2111 as the military reporting point of contact. Then they need to call Kansas Child Protective Services or the appropriate social services contact. Meath said they need to justify the reason for making the call and report upon reporting and share details of the circumstance. Mandatory reporters should also document details of the suspicion. ACS has a checklist available for documentation reminders.
“It’s important for them to know ‘why is it today they feel the need to make the report’ and then some of the other information including where is the child, are they in need of
medical care, are they in danger, information about where they live and who the parents are and then specifically what kind of abuse or neglect it is,” Meath said. Meath said reporters should avoid asking too many questions and remain calm to create a comfortable environment where a child can trust a reporter to signal for help.
Investigations are the responsibility of law enforcement and behavioral health experts, not the reporter. Meath said the contact information of a reporter is confidential no matter what. Reporters do not have to identify themselves during a report; however, sometimes reports are more credible when a reporter shares his or her name and number for follow-through investigations. Reporters cannot personally follow up on a case but may be contacted by law enforcement for information. Meath said suspicions are often part of a pattern with multiple signs of abuse or neglect over time.
“There is child abuse and neglect in Fort Leavenworth and the military community here,”
Meath said. “It probably does not meet the same standards of the really difficult cases in the larger public, but we still have it here. Abusers can be any rank, any race, any sex — we see it in everybody.”
Meath said reporting in the military doesn’t necessarily result in disciplinary action, that
some reports have helped identify and find resources to resolve familial problems. Meath said less than half of the reports at Fort Leavenworth are substantiated.
“It is the intent of the program and reporting that we can get help for these people, not necessarily put them in jail or removed from the military. A lot of times, what we are seeing is families or parents or children that need some kind of help. If by making a report we can get them help, that’s great.”
Meath said there are four kinds of maltreatment of children: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
“Here at Fort Leavenworth I would say a lot of our reports are either physical neglect or physical abuse, those are the two main ones. For neglect, a lot of (the cases) are lack of supervision.”
Meath encourages the families to review the policy for unsupervised children on post, and
consider reporting in cases of suspicious behavior. Call 911 in the case of an emergency.
For questions, guidance or more information on reporting, contact Meath at email@example.com or 913-684-2808 or contact ACS at 684-2800 or 684-HELP/4357