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 instances where they have cause to believe that a child’s health or welfare has been adversely affected as a result of abuse by any person.[741]  The definition of abuse includes sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare—making specific reference to the three crimes listed in the previous section.[742]

2. Mandatory reporters

Any individual who has cause to believe that a child’s health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse must notify the proper authorities.

In addition, the statute specifically addresses the reporting requirements as they apply to “professionals” who encounter children they suspect to have been or may be a victim of abuse. The statute defines “professionals” as people who—in their official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required—have direct contact with children and are:

  • licensed or certified by the state; or
  • employees of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state

This includes: teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.[743]

3. Who to report to

Individuals must report suspected child abuse to (1) any local or state law enforcement agency or (2) the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children. Mandated reporters must notify the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in cases where the defendant is a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.[744]

4. State response

The Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children must notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of all reports they receive.[745] Additionally, district attorneys can request notification from these agencies of cases of reported abuse allegedly occurring in their counties.[746] The Department is responsible for investigating cases involving a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the victim. The appropriate state or local law enforcement agency is responsible for investigating all other reports of child abuse.[747]