State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

09/25/2000

1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandatory reporters are required to notify the proper authorities if they suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse.[667] The definition of abuse, which include sexual abuse, makes specific reference to the sexual assault crimes listed in the previous section. However, the definition only applies to those cases where the defendant is someone responsible for the child’s welfare or when someone responsible for the child’s welfare allowed the act to be committed.[668] In addition to requiring reports of abuse as defined in the statute, mandated reporters are also required to report suspected abuse if the defendant is less than 18 years of age.[669]

Physicians and registered nurse practitioners are also required to make reports if they determine that someone under 12 years of age has a sexually transmitted disease.[670]

2. Mandatory reporters

Any person with reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse is required to make a report.[671]

3. Who to report to

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families is required to maintain a toll-free hotline to receive reports of abuse at all times. Mandated reporters are required to notify the Department, through the hotline or otherwise, within 24 hours of encountering a case of suspected of child abuse.[672] Physicians and registered nurse practitioners must make immediate oral reports—followed by a written report—to both the Department and a law enforcement agency.[673]

4. State response

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families has the primary responsibility for investigating reports of child abuse.[674] If it becomes apparent that the child was a victim of a sexual offense, the Department is required to immediately inform law enforcement.[675] Law enforcement must then continue the investigation and inform the Department or family court of its findings. If the law enforcement agency believes that a crime was committed, it must also report its findings to the Department of the Attorney General.[676]