State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1.  Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mississippi’s reporting requirements require mandated reporters to notify the proper authorities if they suspect that a child is a victim of abuse, including sexual abuse.[428] The definition of sexual abuse includes rape and molestation but does not specifically refer to any of the crimes in the previous section. The definition of abuse only includes crimes perpetrated by the parent, guardian, custodian, or other person responsible for the care or support of the child in question.[429]

2.  Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include: attorneys; physical and mental health providers; social workers; child care givers; ministers; law enforcement officers; public or private school employees; or any other persons having reasonable causes to suspect that a child has been abused.[430]

3.  Who to report to

Mandated reporters must make an immediate oral report to the Department of Human Services (DHS), to be followed as soon thereafter as possible by a written report.[431]

4.  State response

Upon receipt of a report of abuse, DHS must immediately notify the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred and shall notify the appropriate prosecutor within 48 hours. DHS and law enforcement must investigate the abuse immediately and file a preliminary report with the appropriate prosecutor’s office within 24 hours. Within 72 hours, DHS must also refer the case to the youth court intake unit, and where appropriate, the youth court prosecutor.[432] Upon receipt of the report, the intake unit must make a preliminary inquiry that can result in a request to DHS, the Department of Youth Services, or other qualified agency to make an investigation or report concerning the child and any other children in the same environment.[433]