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.[500] However, the definition of sexual abuse does not make specific reference to the offenses listed in the previous section.[501] The reporting requirement does not include any provisions that indicate that it applies only to parents, guardians, or other individuals responsible for the welfare of the child.

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandatory reporters include: physical and mental health practitioners; hospital personnel; teachers, school officials, and school counselors; social workers; child and foster care workers; law enforcement officials; clergy members; and any other individual who suspects that a child has been the victim of abuse.[502]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters must make an immediate oral report to the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by a written report—if requested by the Department—within 48 hours.[503]

4. State response

The Department of Health and Human Services must initiate an investigation within 72 hours of receiving a report of suspected abuse.[504] In cases where the alleged abuse involves sexual molestation or exploitation or the child has been the victim of a crime, the Department must immediately refer the case to law enforcement. The initial referral must be followed by a written report. The statutes require that the Department and law enforcement cooperate in their investigations of reported abuse.[505] This includes developing standardized protocol for joint investigations.[506]