NORTHFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION file code: 5141.4
Regulation Other Reasons
MISSING, ABUSED AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN
The board of education shall foster with its community of parents a sense of wellbeing and confidence that each child is valued and will be protected from any form of threat or danger to their safety and wellbeing. The board of education adopts the New Jersey Legislature’s determination that removal of children from school constitutes a deprivation in itself and may be an indicator of even more grievous abuses. The board believes that it is important to identify and investigate suspected incidents involving missing, abused or neglected children immediately. Moreover, the public schools can and should provide an early warning to the appropriate authorities when a child appears to be missing from the educational system.
Therefore, the school district will cooperate with the New Jersey Division Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and law enforcement authorities in identifying and reporting all such cases of missing, abused and neglected students whether institutional or noninstitutional.
The board further believes that as required by law, school staff, volunteers and interns have the responsibility to report attempted or completed suicide. Reporting enables the district to plan supportive measures for the school community and facilitates the state’s initiatives regarding suicide prevention and intervention. Therefore, school staff, volunteers and interns shall report the information to the New Jersey Department New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF).
The following chart lists the staff members responsible for the implementation of the regulation and summarizes their responsibilities:
|Position||Summary of Main Responsibilities|
|Director of Curriculum||
“Abandonment” is defined in N.J.S.A. 9:6-1, as any of the following acts committed by anyone having the custody or control of the child:
- Willfully forsaking a child;
- Allowing the child to be exposed to physical or moral risk without proper and sufficient protection;
- Failing to care for a child to the extent that the child must be supported and maintained at the expense of the public or by private persons who are not legally responsible for the child.
“Abuse” is defined by the above statute as any of the following:
- Disposing or resolving the custody of a child in ways contrary to law;
- Employing the child in a position that is dangerous to the child’s health, or in violation of the child employment laws of New Jersey;
- Employing the child in a position that would endanger the morals of the child;
- Parental/guardian’s subjection of the child to the habitual use of profane language;
- Performing an indecent act or deed, in the presence of a child, where the act may degrade the morals of the child or allowing another person to perform such an act;
- The use of excessive physical restraint on the child under circumstances which do not indicate that the child’s behavior is harmful to himself, others or property;
- Willfully isolating the child from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation.
“Abused child” is defined by N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.9 as a child under the age of 18 years whose parent, guardian, or other person having his custody and control:
- Inflicts or allows non-accidental physical injury which causes or creates a substantial risk of death, or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ;
- Creates or allows a non-accidental and substantial or ongoing risk of physical injury to a child which would be likely to cause death or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ; or
- Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse against the child;
- Or a child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his/her parent/guardian to exercise a minimum degree of care:
- In supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though financially able to do so or though offered financial or other reasonable means to do so; or
- In providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment or using excessive physical restraint under circumstances which do not indicate that the child’s behavior is harmful to himself, others or property; or by any other act of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court; or
- A child who has been willfully abandoned by his parent or guardian, or such other person having his custody and control; or
- A child who is in an institution as defined in N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 and (1) has been so placed inappropriately for a continued period of time with the knowledge that the placement has resulted and may continue to result in harm to the child’s mental or physical well-being or (2) has been willfully isolated from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation.
“Child Cruelty” is defined as:
- Inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment;
- Inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain, either mental or physical;
- Habitually tormenting, vexing or afflicting a child;
- Any willful act of omission or commission causing or permitting unnecessary pain and suffering; or
- Exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue or mental or physical strains that may tend to injure the health or physical or moral well-being of such child.
“Missing child” is defined in N.J.S.A. 52:17B-9.8a as a person under 18 years of age reported to a law enforcement agency as being abducted, enticed away, taken, missing or a runaway. A missing child is also defined in N.J.S.A. 52:17B-212 as a person 13 years of age or younger whose whereabouts are not currently known.
“Neglect” is defined as any of the following acts committed by a person having the custody or control of the child:
- Willfully failing to provide proper and sufficient food, clothing, maintenance, regular school education as required by law, medical attendance or surgical treatment, and a clean and proper home, or
- Failure to do or permit any act necessary for the child’s physical or moral well-being. Neglect includes the continued inappropriate placement of a child in an institution, knowing that the placement has resulted and may continue to result in harm to the child’s mental or physical well-being.
“Parent or guardian” means any natural parent, adoptive parent, resource family parent, stepparent, paramour of a parent, or any person, who has assumed responsibility for the care, custody, or control of a child or upon whom there is a legal duty for such care. “Parent” includes the adoptive or resource family parent. The term also includes any person who has assumed the care of a child, or any person with whom a child is living at the time an offense is committed. Parent, as used in this regulation and attendant policy shall include this definition as well as the legal guardian of the child.
In all cases, the right of a parent/guardian to provide treatment for an ill child in accordance with the religious tenets of any church as authorized by other statutes of New Jersey shall be maintained, provided that laws, rules, and regulations relating to communicable diseases and sanitary matters are not violated. No child, who in good faith, is under treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a duly accredited practitioner of that recognized church or religious denomination, shall for this reason alone, be considered to be abused or neglected.
“New Jersey State Department of Children and Families (DCF)” was created in July 2006 as New Jersey’s first Cabinet agency devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in the state. DCF includes:
- Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P);
- Children’s System of Care;
- Family and Community Partnerships;
- Office of Adolescent Services;
- Office of Education;
- Child Welfare Training Academy;
- Centralized Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline;
“Non-institutional child abuse and neglect” is abuse and/or neglect alleged to have taken place in the home or community by a parent/guardian or any other person having custody or control of the child, and should be reported in person or by telephone to the local DCP&P office.
“Institutional child abuse and neglect” is abuse alleged to have taken place in a school or other institutional setting by school personnel, compensated and uncompensated (volunteer) and should be reported in person or by telephone to the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU) of the local DCP&P office.
INDICATORS OF CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT
|Physical Indicators||Behavioral Indicators|
|Unexplained bruises and welts:
|Wary of adult contacts
Apprehensive when other children cry
Frightened of parents
|Physical Indicators||Behavioral Indicators|
|Consistent hunger, poor hygiene, inappropriate dress
Consistent lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities or long periods
Constant fatigue or listlessness
Unattended physical problems or medical needs
|Begging, stealing food
Extended stays at school (early arrival and late departure)
Constantly falling asleep in class
Alcohol or drug abuse
Delinquency (e.g. thefts)
States there is no caregiver
|Physical Indicators||Behavioral Indicators|
|Difficulty in walking or sitting
Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
Pain or itching in genital area
Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal areas
Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens
|Unwilling to change for gym or participate in PE
Withdrawn, fantasy or infantile behavior
Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
Poor peer relationships
Delinquent or run away
Reports sexual assault by caregiver
|Physical Indicators||Behavioral Indicators|
|Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
Conduct disorders (antisocial, destructive, etc.)
Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, speech disorders, inhibition of play)
Overly adoptive behavior:
All reports of child abuse and neglect, including those occurring in institutional settings such as child care centers, schools, foster homes and residential treatment centers, must be reported to the State Central Registry (SCR). This is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week hotline.
Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry)
Child Protection and Permanency Liaison
- The Superintendent designates as a liaison to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and/or to the local law enforcement agency:
- School social worker
- Guidance counselor
- The roles and functions of the(se) liaisons are to:
- Act as the primary contact person between schools in the school district and law enforcement authorities, consistent with the memorandum of agreement;
- Facilitate communication and cooperation between DCP&P and the district including the sharing or transfer of records;
- Identify issues or problems that arise in the implementation of district policy and procedures related to missing, abused and neglected children and facilitate the resolution of any such problems;
- Act as the primary contact with DCP&P with regard to training, general information sharing and the maintenance and development of cooperative efforts;
- Coordinate intervention and prevention efforts.
Law Enforcement Liaison
- The Superintendent designates as a liaison to the county prosecutor’s office and to the local law enforcement agency:
- The roles and functions of the(se) liaisons are to:
- Facilitate communication and cooperation;
- Identify issues or problems that arise in the implementation of this Agreement and facilitate the resolution of any such problems;
- Act as the primary contact person between the schools and the affected law enforcement agencies;
- Act together in developing joint training and other cooperative efforts, including information exchanges and joint speaking engagements;
- Coordinate drug and alcohol abuse and violence intervention and prevention efforts; and
- Consult on the review of school safety and security plans, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.1, and the review of approved model policies of the School Security Task Force.
Note: see board policy and regulation 1410 Local Units
Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse, including sexual abuse, or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency by telephone or otherwise. Such reports, where possible, shall contain the names and addresses of the child and his parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control of the child and, if known, the child’s age, the nature and possible extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or maltreatment, including any evidence of previous injuries, abuse or maltreatment, and any other information that the person believes may be helpful with respect to the child abuse and the identity of the perpetrator.
Any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect or testifies in a child abuse hearing resulting from such a report is immune from any criminal or civil liability as a result of such action. Calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously. Any such person who is discharged from employment or is subject to employment discrimination may file a cause of action in the family part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court in the county in which the discharge or alleged discrimination occurred or in the county of the person’s primary residence.
Any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect or testifies in a child abuse hearing resulting from such a report shall be free from any type of retaliation.
When a complaint made against a school employee alleging child abuse or neglect is determined by the Department of Children and Families to be unfounded, the school district shall remove any references to the complaint and investigation by the department from the employee’s personnel records. A complaint made against a school employee that has been classified as unfounded by the department shall not be used against the employee for any purpose relating to employment, including but not limited to, discipline, salary, promotion, transfer, demotion, retention or continuance of employment, termination of employment or any right or privilege relating to employment.
Any person who knowingly violates the reporting requirements and fails to report an act of child abuse having reasonable cause to believe that an act of child abuse has been committed, is a disorderly person.
Any person who knowingly fails to report an act of sexual abuse against a child and who has reasonable cause to believe that an act of sexual abuse has been committed is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree which carries a term of imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.14; P.L. 2019, c. 40).
The Superintendent has developed these procedures in compliance with statutory requirements that suspected incidents of potentially missing, abused and neglected children be reported. If a student is reasonably believed to be missing, abused or neglected, the following procedures shall apply:
- Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse including sexual abuse, or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency by contacting 1-877 NJABUSE (1-877-652-2873) or TTY 1-800-835-5510 or otherwise. Such reports, where possible, shall contain the following:
- Name, title and position of individual reporting the alleged abuse;
- Date, time and location that the report of alleged abuse is being submitted to the district;
- Names and addresses of the child and his parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control of the child;
- If known, the child’s age;
- The nature and possible extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or maltreatment;
- Any evidence of previous injuries, abuse or maltreatment, and any other information that the person believes may be helpful with respect to the child abuse and the identity of the perpetrator.
- All staff members, volunteers and interns having contact with pupils are required to report directly and immediately to DCP&P all incidents of alleged missing, abused and neglected children. The person having reason to believe that a child may be missing or may have been abused or neglected may inform the principal or other designated school officials prior to notifying DCP&P if the action will not delay immediate notification. The employee making a report to DCP&P shall inform the principal or other designated school officials that a report was made. Employees, volunteers and interns shall not be required to obtain confirmation by another person to report a suspected missing, abused or neglected child situation;
- If a student attendance investigation demonstrates reasonable cause to believe a child is missing or has been abused or neglected, the investigator shall immediately notify the building principal who shall then notify the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall then notify the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families for its determination of whether the division is or has been involved with the child and whether action, as appropriate, is warranted (pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:36-25.2);
- The person notifying DCP&P shall inform the principal or other designated school officials of the notification if this was not done prior to notifying DCP&P. The principal or other school designated school official should not be given this notification if the person making the notification believes that it would likely endanger the reporter or student involved or result in retaliation against the student or in discrimination against the reporter with respect to his or her employment. In the event that the person notifying DCP&P believes that making such a report to the principal or other designated school official would endanger the reporter or student involved or result in retaliation against the student or in discrimination against the reporter with respect to his or her employment, the reporter should document reasons for that belief in writing to the Superintendent or other appropriate school official.
- The principal shall notify the Superintendent and law enforcement authorities of incidents of potentially missing, abused, or neglected child situations. Procedures for the notification of the law enforcement authority shall be consistent with the district Memorandum of Agreement (see board policy 1410 Local Units);
- The principal shall ensure that all involved staff cooperate with DCP&P and law enforcement authorities in all investigations of potential missing, abused, or neglected children including facilitating:
- Accommodations permitting investigators to interview the student in the presence of the school principal or other designated school official. If the student is uncomfortable in the presence of the school representative, the student shall be requested to name an employee, volunteer, or intern he or she feels will be supportive to be present during the interview;
- Interviews by scheduling time with any employee, volunteer, or intern who may have information relevant to the investigation;
- The release of all records of the student who is the subject of the investigation that are deemed relevant to the assessment or treatment of a potentially missing, abused, or neglected child;
- The maintenance, security, and release of all confidential information about potential missing, abused, or neglected child situations;
- The release of the student to child welfare authorities while school is in session when it is necessary to protect the student or take the student to a service provider. This removal shall take place only after the principal or his or her designee has been provided, either in advance or at the time removal is sought, with appropriate documentation that DCP&P has already removed, or has appropriate authority to remove, the student from his or her home;
- The transfer to another school of a student who has been removed from his or her home by DCP&P for proper care and protection (see board policy 5118.2 Foster Care and Educational Stability);
- Notification to the student’s parents or guardians shall not be made by school officials or employees when it is suspected that either parent or guardian is responsible for the suspected abuse.
The principal shall:
- Immediately notify the law enforcement authorities of incidents of potentially missing, abused, or neglected child situations reported by employees, volunteers, or interns. Procedures for the notification of the law enforcement authority shall consistent with the district Memorandum of Agreement (see board policy 1410 Local Units). If the student is attending pursuant to a send-receive or other type of shared services agreement, immediate notice shall also be provided to the law enforcement authorities of the receiving districts. The administration shall consider providing notice to the law enforcement authorities of the sending district where circumstances warrant.
- In timely fashion, notify the Superintendent of incidents of potentially missing, abused, or neglected child situations reported by employees, volunteers, or interns;
- Document in writing any reported incident of a missing, abused or neglected student. There may be one report or multiple reports depending on the actions taken at the school and the time frame within which the actions were taken. Reports shall include at a minimum:
- The date, time and location the incident was reported;
- The name of the staff member, volunteer or intern who reported the incident;
- The date and time the principal notified the law enforcement authorities;
- The date and time the principal notified the Superintendent;
- A description of the facts reported which may include the reason the report was made, statements and/or observations that caused the suspicion inciting the report, and who was involved;
- The date and time of any investigative interviews conducted with school students and staff, including the names, contact information and title of the professional or professionals conducting the interview;
- A description of any physical evidence that may have been provided or reported by witnesses.
All records of child abuse reports, all information obtained by the Department of Children and Families in investigating such reports, and all reports of findings forwarded to the child abuse registry shall be kept confidential.
Interviews and Investigations
When DCP&P and/or law enforcement officials investigate allegations of missing, abused or neglected students on school grounds the principal shall:
- Check the credentials of the DCP&P caseworker or law enforcement official requesting the interview or information;
- Arrange for any necessary accommodations permitting authorized investigators to interview the student in the presence of the principal or designated school official;
- If necessary arrange for a school representative of the student’s preference to be present during the interview, when the student is not comfortable with the principal or the other designated school official;
- As requested by DCP&P and/or the law enforcement official, schedule interview times and locations with any employee, volunteer, or intern who may have information relevant to the investigation;
- Prepare and release the records of the student who is the subject of the investigation that are deemed relevant to the assessment or treatment of the potentially missing, abused, or neglected student, to the extent permitted by N.J.S.A. 18A:36-19 and 9:6-8.40 and allowable under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 34 CFR Part 99;
- Cooperate with the maintenance, security, and release of all confidential information:
- All information regarding allegations of potentially missing, abused, or neglected children reported to authorities about an employee, volunteer, or intern shall be considered confidential and may be disclosed only as required to cooperate in investigations or as required by court order;
- Records pertaining to such information about an employee, volunteer, or intern shall be maintained in a secure location separate from other employee personnel records and accessible only to the Superintendent or his or her designee;
- Facilitate the release of the student to DCP&P while school is in session when it is necessary to protect the student or take the student to a service provider. This removal shall take place only after the principal or his or her designee has been provided, either in advance or at the time removal is sought, with appropriate documentation that DCP&P has already removed, or has appropriate authority to remove, the student from his or her home;
- Cooperate with and facilitate any transfer arrangements made to another school of a student who has been removed from his or her home by DCP&P for proper care and protection according to the provisions of board policy and procedure 5118.2 Foster Care and Educational Stability.
Due Process Rights of a School Employee, Volunteer, or Intern Named As a Suspect
- An employee, volunteer, or intern working in the school district who has been named as a suspect in a notification to child welfare and law enforcement authorities regarding a missing, abused, or neglected child situation shall be entitled to due process rights;
- Temporary reassignment or suspension of an employee, volunteer, or intern working in the school district named as a suspect shall occur only if there is reason to believe that the life or health of the alleged victim or other pupil is in imminent danger due to continued contact between the employee, volunteer, or intern and the pupil;
- All references to a notification to DCP&P of a potential missing, abused, or neglected child situation involving a school district employee, shall be removed from the employee’s personnel records immediately following the receipt of an official notice from DCP&P that the allegation was unfounded.
- Any employee who is licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling, is immune from any civil liability for a patient’s violent act against another person or against himself unless the practitioner has incurred a duty to warn and protect the potential victim and fails to discharge that duty. Both the duty to warn and exceptions to that duty are located at N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-16.
- Any employee, volunteer, or intern with reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a student has attempted or completed suicide, shall report the information to the Department Children and Families. The information shall be reported in the form and manner prescribed by the Department of Children and Families;
- Any person who has reported attempted or completed suicide, shall notify the principal of the reported suspicion, if they did not notify the principal prior to filing the initial report;
- The principal or his or her designee may assist the staff member, volunteer or intern in making the report to the Department Children and Families (DCF). Assistance may include:
- Distributing the board policy and procedure 5141.4 Missing, Abused and Neglected Children;
- Directing the staff member, volunteer or intern to the DCF website and the electronic reporting form at http://www.nj.gov/dcf/adolescent/prevention/suicidereportingform.html;
- Provide information regarding confidentiality of reporting;
- The principal shall notify the Superintendent of any incident where a staff member, volunteer or intern has reported to the principal and/or DCF that a student has attempted or completed suicide;
- The principal or his or her designee shall keep a written record of any reported incidents of attempted or completed suicide including:
- The date and time the incident was reported;
- The name of the staff member, volunteer or intern who reported the incident.
The staff member, volunteer or intern that reports attempted or completed suicide shall have immunity from any civil or criminal liability on account of that report, unless the person has acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.
Staff members, volunteers or interns shall not be required to disclose, or be penalized for the failure to disclose, any information which would be privileged according to law (N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-18 through -23).
The Superintendent shall require each teaching staff member to complete at least two hours of instruction in suicide prevention during each professional development cycle. The instruction must be provided by a licensed health care professional with training and experience in mental health issues. The instruction in suicide prevention shall include information on the relationship between the risk of suicide and incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying and information on reducing the risk of suicide in students who are members of communities identified as having members at high risk of suicide.
Effective Date: July 24, 2017
Date of Review/Revision: April 2019
5131.6 Substance Abuse
5131.7 Weapons and Dangerous Instruments
5141.4 Child Abuse and Neglect
5142 Safety (covers missing children)
5145.11 Questioning and Apprehension
5145.12 Search and Seizure