Child Abuse and Neglect
Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse or neglect is defined as a threat to a child’s health or welfare by physical, mental or emotional injury or impairment, sexual abuse or exploitation, deprivation of essential needs, or lack of protection from these. As part of the Maine 4-H Youth Development program, all staff and enrolled volunteers should act when you know or have reason to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected.
Types of abuse and neglect
- Emotional abuse: pattern of behavior attacking a child’s self-worth
- Physical abuse: non-accidental injury of a child caused by the acts of a parent or other caregiver
- Sexual abuse: contact or interaction for gratification of the adult or older child who is a parent or caregiver and responsible for the child’s care
- Neglect: child is not adequately cared for or protected.
Process for handling allegations of child abuse or neglect; if the complaint is against a parent or guardian:
- A Maine 4-H staff member or volunteer who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected should contact the Program Administrator or Operations Administrator, local authorities (if appropriate), and the Maine Department of Human Services (DHS), Bureau of Child and Family Services (BCFS) at 1‑800‑452‑1999 to make a report. The BCFS number is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
- A Maine 4-H volunteer who needs to report child abuse or neglect should also inform their county educator or professional immediately.
Process for handling allegations of child abuse or neglect; if the complaint is against a 4-H volunteer:
- Upon receiving a formal complaint the Program Administrator and Operations Administrator, in consultation with the Dean and other UM resources, will conduct an investigation of the report. While the investigation is being conducted it is likely that the volunteer will be asked to step down from their role until the conclusion of the investigation.
- If at the conclusion of the investigation, the volunteer is found to be suitable to provide services, the volunteer will be told of their ability to continue in their role as a Maine 4-H volunteer, and club members and their parents or guardians will be informed of their continuance as well.
- If at the conclusion of the investigation, the volunteer is found not to be suitable to continue in their role, the volunteer will be dismissed, and club members and their parents or guardians will be informed that the volunteer is no longer serving in the role of volunteer.
Procedure for handling incidents of youth-on-youth abuse
- In situations where a 4-H youth is suspected of abusing (i.e., sexual abuse, physical violence) another 4-H youth member, the following steps should be followed:
- if the scenario includes serious physical assault, involves a weapon or there is any immediate concern for the safety of individuals or sexual abuse (that just occurred and the parties are still present), then call local law enforcement.
- contact your 4-H staff person if possible.
- 4-H staff should contact the 4-H Program Administrator or Operations Administrator to determine next steps.
- If possible, work with 4H staff and the Program Administrator to notify the parent(s) or guardian(s) of all youth directly involved with the incident.