State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all cases of suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse.[449] The statute defines abuse to only include those offenses perpetrated by someone responsible for the care of the victim.[450] However, the reporting requirement specifically states that, in the context of mandatory reporting, abuse includes acts perpetrated by anyone, regardless of their relationship to the victim.[451]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandatory reporters include: physical and mental health practitioners; social workers; day care and other child care workers; corrections officers; teachers, principals, or other school officials; clergy members;[452] or other individuals responsible for the care of children.[453]

3. Who to report to

Mandatory reporters must make an oral report to the Division of Family Services in all cases in which they suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse. In cases involving sexual abuse or molestation, reports must be made within 24 hours.[454]

4. State response

The Division of Family Services is responsible for maintaining a telephone hotline capable of receiving reports. Upon receiving reports, the central office must forward to information to the local office. The Division is also required to contact the mandated reporter who made the initial report within 48 hours to ensure that the Division has all of the relevant information. The local office is responsible for determining how to approach the investigation of reports of suspected abuse. In cases where the abuse would constitute a criminal offense (including the sexual offenses listed in the previous section) and the suspected defendant is at least 21 years of age, the local office must immediately notify law enforcement.[455]