University of Extension Mandatory Reporting

Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting

The University of Wisconsin-Extension strives to provide a safe and secure learning and working environment for everyone involved in university activities. Children come into contact with UW-Extension employees and volunteers through various programs, camps, and events. On Dec. 19, 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed Executive Order #54, which requires that all University of Wisconsin System employees must report child abuse and neglect.

For purposes of reporting child abuse and neglect, a 'child' is a person who is less than 18 years of age.


All UW System employees (this includes all UW-Extension employees, regardless of appointment type or method of compensation) must immediately report child abuse or neglect if, in the course of employment, a UW System employee:

  • Observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or
  • Learns of an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect and has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur.

This reporting requirement also applies to UW-Extension volunteers.


All suspected abuse (physical, sexual and emotional abuse or the manufacture of methamphetamine) or neglect of a person under 18 years of age must be reported to local law enforcement or a county social services agency. Please see Child Abuse and Neglect: Definitions and Signs below for more information.



  • Do not delay making a report in order to gather evidence; the agency to which you make the report will determine whether such an investigation is warranted.
  • It is acceptable to quickly collect additional information that is readily available (such as talking to co-workers who also interact with that child) or to verify that the information learned meets with the criteria for reporting, but this must be done right away.
  • It is better to report without all relevant information than to delay a report to collect information.


  • Contact local law enforcement or a county social services agency (statewide contact information map)
  • Emergency: Call 911
  • In addition, UW-Extension employees should notify their immediate supervisor, division dean/director, AND the UW-Extension Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Volunteers who file a report should immediately notify a UW-Extension employee.

For general questions, contact:

Kelly Thomas
Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
432 N. Lake Street, Room 201
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 890-3472 



Child Abuse and Neglect: Definition and Signs

Physical abuse

Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm.

  • Afraid to go home
  • Frightened of parents/caregivers
  • Fearful of other adults
  • Extremes in behavior: very aggressive or withdrawn and shy
  • Other symptoms of emotional damage
  • Bruises, welts on face, neck, chest, back, buttocks
  • Injuries in the shape of an object (cord, belt)
  • Fractures that do not fit the story of how an injury occurred
  • Delay in seeking medical help

Sexual abuse

Sexual intercourse or sexual touching of a child; recording or displaying of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; forcing a child to view or listen to sexual activity; exposing genitals or pubic area to a child or exposing a child's genitals or pubic area for purposes of sexual gratification; or permitting, allowing or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution.

  • Poor peer relationships
  • Refusal to participate in physical activity
  • Drastic change in behavior
  • Regressive or childlike behavior that is not age appropriate
  • Overly sexualized behavior
  • Other symptoms of emotional damage
  • Difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination, pain
  • Stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain, swelling, itching in genital area

Abuse as manufacturing of methamphetamines

It is child abuse to manufacture methamphetamines with a child present, or in a child's home or under any other circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that the manufacture would be seen, heard or smelled by a child.

Emotional damage

Harm to a child's psychological or intellectual functioning, which is exhibited by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or aggression. Emotional damage may be demonstrated by substantial and observable changes in behavior, emotional response or learning, which are incompatible with the child's age or stage of development. Emotional damage occurs when a child's parent, guardian or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable, for reasons other than poverty, to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-denigration
  • Severe depression
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Severe anxiety


When a parent or caregiver fails, refuses or is unable, for reasons other than poverty, to provide the necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter, which seriously endanger the physical health of the child.

  • Poor hygiene, odor
  • Inappropriately dressed for the weather
  • Needs medical or dental care
  • Extreme willingness to please
  • Other symptoms of emotional damage
  • Arrives early and stays late
  • Left alone, unsupervised for long periods
  • Failure to thrive, malnutrition