Penny Simpson Brooke JD, MS, APRN

June 2010 
Volume 40  Number 6
Pages 10 - 10
  PDF Version Available!

I'm an RN who's wondering how to handle a situation with my next-door neighbor. She's a newly divorced woman with three children, including a colicky infant. She spanks her older kids with a hairbrush sometimes. Once I saw her shake her 8-year-old son by the shoulders while yelling in his face (he'd run out into the street).When I'm acting as a concerned citizen and not as a healthcare professional, do I have a legal responsibility to report the kinds of discipline I've witnessed? I don't want to make trouble for my neighbor, who seems like a good person under a lot of stress.—H.W., N.C.In most states, the Nurse Practice Act defines nurses' responsibilities, and reporting suspected child abuse is often included. In addition, some states' reporting laws mandate that anyone who suspects that a child or older adult is being abused must notify the designated state agency. Many statutes include criminal penalties for not reporting reasonably suspected

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