Allegations, Accusations or Suspicion of Physical/Sexual Abuse, Molestation, or the Use of
Alcohol or Drugs
(from Virginia Cooperative Extension Risk Management Information at
Be aware of the laws of the Commonwealth (Section 63.1-248.et.seq.). As described in the law,
any representative in a professional capacity involving the education or care of children who has
reason to suspect that a minor is an abused or neglected child, shall report the matter
immediately to the local Social Services Department of the county or city wherein the child
resides or wherein the abuse or neglect is believed to have occurred or to the Department of
Social Services Toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline 1-800-552-7096.
A suspicion is when there is a reasonable cause to believe that any individual has been abused or
neglected. If you have suspicion (i.e. reason to suspect) that any physical/sexual abuse or
molestation has occurred to anyone of any age call the appropriate law enforcement officials
immediately. If there is any doubt, call.
IF AT ANY POINT IN THIS PROCESS YOU FEEL YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY OR
THE SAFETY OF OTHERS IS IN JEOPARDY, YOU SHOULD CALL THE POLICE.
The Department of Social Services will use the following criteria in determining if a complaint is
1. The child must be under the age of 18 at the time of the complaint.
2. The alleged abuser must be the child's parent or caretaker.
3. The report must be made in the city or county where the child lives, where the abuse
occurred, or, if neither of these is known, where the abuse is discovered.
4. The circumstances must meet the state definition of abuse and neglect.
To assist you in determining if your allegation is a suspicion that something did occur, the
following key indicators from the Virginia Department of Social Services are provided:
1. PHYSICAL ABUSE: Questionable bruises, welts, burns, fractures, lacerations or
2. PHYSICAL NEGLECT: Begging or stealing food, extended stays away from home,
fatigue or frequently tardy from school.
3. SEXUAL ABUSE: Difficulty in walking; torn, stained or bloody clothing; bleeding or
bruises in external genitalia, vaginal or anal area.
4. EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Habits disorders, destructive, sleep disorders, behavior extremes
If you have an allegation or an accusation, you should react in the following manner:
Do not panic.
Do not criticize anyone involved and remain objective.
Respect the privacy of all those involved.
Separate those involved.
Conduct discussions with those involved, those making the allegations or accusations, and those
against whom the allegations or accusations are made (if appropriate), and document in writing
their account of the alleged incident. Always have a witness present.
If the allegation or accusation develops into a suspicion (and involves a minor) that some
incident has occurred, notify Social Services immediately. When in doubt call. If the incident
involves abuse or neglect of a minor, also notify police. Individuals under the age of 18 are
considered to be minors.
If the authorities have been notified, then the parents or guardians (if appropriate) of any minor
in our care and custody who are involved in the incident must be notified immediately. If after
the discussions are conducted there is no suspicion of an incident occurring, the parents may still
be contacted and informed of the incident and the action taken.
Once the authorities are contacted, cooperate fully. However make no statements or turn
over any information to anyone other than Social Services, the police, a supervisor, or the
Risk Management or Legal Services of one of the agencies sponsoring the Virginia Master
Naturalist program. Confidentiality is to be maintained permanently. Nothing should be
discussed with a spouse or a co-worker. Only those mentioned above should be involved.