State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all instances where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of sexual abuse. The definition of sexual abuse makes specific reference to the criminal sexual conduct statutes described in the previous section. However, sexual abuse is defined to only include those acts perpetrated by a person responsible for the child’s care, someone living in the same house as the child or related to the child, or someone in a position of authority. The one exception to this requirement is if a mandated reporter suspects that a defendant has sexually abused two or more children, not related to the defendant, in the past 10 years.[418]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include: physical and mental health practitioners, social service workers, hospital administrators, child care workers, educators, and law enforcement officials. Members of the clergy are required to report suspected abuse as long as they did not learn of it through a confession received in their professional capacity.[419]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters must make an oral report to the police department, the local welfare agency, the county agency responsible for child protective services, or the county sheriff within 24 hours of encountering a case of suspected abuse. They must follow the initial report with a written report within 72 hours.[420]

4. State response

Law enforcement and human services agencies must immediately notify one another of any reports of suspected abuse they receive. Each agency must designate a staff person who is responsible for ensuring that the proper entities are notified of reported abuse. In cases where the suspected abuse includes a violation of one of the crimes listed in the previous section, the local law enforcement and welfare agencies must coordinate their investigations. However, they are required to produce separate reports.[421]