Social services in Oklahoma exist to protect children from abuse and neglect.
Everyone throughout Oklahoma has a responsibility to report known abuse or neglect instances. But the big question for these individuals who report such behavior is: what happens after I report someone?
This blog will answer your many questions and help you better understand everything that takes place after you file a report with social services.
Who is required to report child abuse or neglect?
Caregivers, teachers, medical professionals and anyone who knows of child abuse or neglect must report it to social services.
If you’re just a neighbor or fellow patron at a playground, you might feel like you have no responsibility to report child abuse and neglect. However, everyone has a responsibility to say something if they see concerning behavior.
Child abuse is defined as harming a child or threatening to harm a child. This abuse can be from any of the following:
- A parent
- A grandparent
- A caregiver
- A foster parent
- Any adult 18 years of age or older who lives with the child.
Emotional abuse is when a parent or guardian continuously terrorizes, rejects, isolates, exploits or corrupts a child.
Neglect can be a bit more difficult to spot. It involves not providing for a child’s needs, such as failure to provide proper food, clothing or adequate medical care.
Will the person I reported ever know it was me who reported them?
Oklahoma social services has a strict confidentiality policy.
What you should know is that child abuse or neglect cases that go to court can in very rare circumstances have the reporting individual revealed so that they can testify. However, this is exceedingly rare as the social services team does all it can to protect the reporter’s confidentiality.
Additionally, you can choose to make an anonymous report. Just know that providing your name and information can help the caseworker help the child in need through having the information they need to work through the case.
What information does social services need from me?
When you report child abuse or neglect to social services in Oklahoma, you’ll need to be ready to answer several questions and provide social services with information related to the abuse or neglect you witnessed.
This information might include:
- Information about the child, such as their name, address, school they attend, etc.
- Details about other people who might be aware of the abuse or neglect, such as relatives or additional caregivers. As part of this, social services will want to know of any history of domestic violence, weapons in the home and substance abuse issues. This helps them know how best to intervene and proceed in the case.
- Social services needs details about the nature of the abuse or neglect you’ve witnessed.
- Further information you think might help guide social services to protecting the child and removing them from the abusive situation.
If you don’t have information pertaining to some of these areas, that’s OK. You should still report the issue to social services with as many details as you can.
What happens after I file the report?
After you file the report with Social services, the team will go to work determining whether or not the details and circumstances you provided meet the requirements of the state’s abuse and neglect standards.
Based on the child’s risk of harm and who the abuser is, the social services team will act accordingly. The team must determine proper next steps within five days of receiving a report of potential child abuse or neglect.
Jacqui Ford Law is here to help
Witnessing child abuse or neglect is never a comfortable or easy situation. If you’re worried about your legal rights or requirements to report such abuse, just give us a call. We can guide you through what you need to know.
On the other hand, if you’re facing child abuse charges, our Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys can get to work building a defense for you. Contact us for a free consultation.