State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

09/25/2000

1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all cases where they have reason to believe that a child has been the victim of abuse.[683] The definition of child abuse includes the sexual offenses listed in the previous section when the defendant is the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.[684] However, the statutes also require mandated reporters to notify the proper authorities of cases where an act would be considered child abuse if not for the fact that the defendant was someone other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.[685]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include the following individuals who encounter cases of suspected abuse through their professional capacity: physical and mental health practitioners; clergy members; school teachers, counselors, principals, assistant principals; social or public assistance workers; substance abuse treatment staff; childcare workers; law enforcement officers; and judges.[686] The statute exempts clergy members who learn of abuse through confession and information covered under the attorney-client privilege.[687]

3. Who to report to

If they suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse, mandated reporters must notify—orally, by telephone, or otherwise—the county Department of Social Services or a law enforcement agency in the county. Reports of abuse perpetrated by someone other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare should be made to the appropriate law enforcement agency.[688]

4. State response

The Department of Social Services or law enforcement can conduct investigations of alleged child abuse. It is law enforcement’s responsibility to investigate alleged offenses committed by someone other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. Law enforcement agencies are required to notify the county Department of any reports they receive.[689]