Whose Responsibility is it to Report Child Abuse in Michigan?

May 14, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Woman using cell phone
Who exactly is supposed to report child abuse in Michigan? But should it be everyone?

If you follow our blog, or read the news with any regularity, you probably already know that Michigan has ‘mandatory reporter’ laws. This means that there is a list of people by profession who are required by law to report suspected child abuse when they encounter it, and not doing so could mean criminal charges against them.

For a long time, that list has included all of the professions you’d expect based on the fact that these are the people most likely to see the signs of child abuse – police officers, doctors, teachers and priests. Recently Michigan expanded that law to include coaches and athletic trainers as well, but as for the rest of us, we’re not legally obligated to report suspected abuse. Yet people are expected to do the right thing. But what exactly does that mean?

A recent case involves a waitress making a report…

A recent case in Branch County involves a waitress, who called Michigan State Police to report the fact that she saw a couple slap a 2-year-old boy after he stole food from his step-sister’s plate in a restaurant. Officers showed up to investigate and found the little boy to be emaciated, extremely malnourished, and covered in bruises. He also had a skull fracture that was in the process of healing.

The couple – 33-year-old Allen Nagle, and 24-year-old Cortni Pitts, were both arrested and have since been charged with Second Degree Child Abuse, which is a felony in Michigan. According to investigators, once the little boy was placed into foster care, he rapidly gained weight and looked much healthier.

Speaking up was the right thing to do in this case.

The little boy in question wasn’t being properly fed for reasons that we don’t know, and was being treated poorly. Police reports say that Nagle admitted to officers that he hit his son and sometimes “didn’t know his own strength.” So the waitress in this case intervened and helped a child. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

Mack, the Victim/Witness Advocate for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in Branch County says that it’s everyone’s responsibility to report abuse and neglect. She says people are often afraid to get involved, but until the problem is reported, nothing can be done to help. “Maybe that parent doesn’t know how to take the proper care and we can help them. There’s programs, there’s counseling, it’s not about hurting them, or taking away their children. It’s about helping them learn.”

But CPS isn’t always as generous or understanding as you’d hope.

CPS workers have a long standing reputation for NOT being as understanding or helpful and Mack claims they are. Parents who aren’t meeting their exacting standards are subjected to long separations from their children, have to jump through court-ordered hoops to get them back, and have their every parenting move critiqued and criticized. It’s hard, and because no parent is perfect, it can feel almost impossible to meet the criteria.

At The Kronzek Firm, our experienced child abuse and neglect defense attorneys have spent decades helping families from all over Michigan deal with allegation of abuse and neglect. We understand how challenging these accusations can be, and we know what it makes to fight them. So if you or a loved one have been accused of harming or neglecting a child by the police or CPS, call 866 766 5245 and get the help you need today.