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.[483] The definition of sexual abuse makes specific reference to both of the crimes listed in the previous section.[484] However, the statute defines abuse to only include those cases where the abuse was either caused or allowed by a person responsible for the victim.[485]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include the following individuals who encounter cases of suspected abuse through their professional or occupational capacity: physical and mental health practitioners; hospital administrators and managers who are informed of suspected abuse by hospital staff; clergy members;[486] social workers; school administrators, teachers, librarians, and counselors; owners and employees of public or private facilities, institutions, or agencies providing care for children; foster care workers; law enforcement and probation officers; attorneys;[487] employees or volunteers of agencies or services that advise or provide referrals to persons regarding child abuse and neglect; employees and volunteers at youth shelters; or any other person employed by an entity that provides organized activities for children.[488]

3. Who to report to

Within 24 hours of encountering a case of abuse, mandated reporters must make a report to an agency which provides child welfare services[489] or law enforcement.[490] The Division of Child and Family Services is required to maintain a toll free hotline capable of receiving reports 24 hours a day 7 days a week.[491] Mandated reporters can make reports to the hotline or by any other means of oral, written, or electronic communication.[492]

4. State response

The individual receiving the initial report of abuse must generate a written account of the report as soon as possible.[493] If a law enforcement agency receives the initial report, it must promptly notify an agency which provides child welfare services. Law enforcement, as well as an agency which provides child welfare services, must notify the appropriate licensing authority of any reports they receive. Within 3 days of a report, an agency which provides child welfare services is responsible for assessing whether an investigation is warranted. If the agency determines that an investigation is warranted, it must commence such an investigation within 3 days of completing the evaluation. Law enforcement and the investigating agency must cooperate in all investigations of abuse.[494]