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 of all cases where they suspect that a child has been subjected to sexual abuse.[763] The defendant can be any person, including, but not limited to, a child, parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child's care.[764]

The reporting requirement and definition of sexual abuse do not make specific reference to any of the offenses listed in the previous section. Sexual abuse is defined to mean acts or attempted acts of sexual intercourse, sodomy, or molestation directed towards someone under 18 years of age.[765] Under criminal law, sexual conduct with someone who is at least 16 years of age and less than 18 years of age is only illegal if the defendant is 10 or more years older than the victim. However, engaging in a sexual act with someone under 18 years of age is a reportable offense, regardless of the age of the defendant.

2. Mandatory reporters

Any person, including licensed health professionals, are required to make a report if they have reason to believe that a child has the victim of abuse. The statute exempts clergy who learn of abuse through confession.[766]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters must immediately notify the nearest peace officer, law enforcement agency, or office of the Division of Child and Family Services.[767] If requested by the Division, initial reports must be followed by a written report within 48 hours.[768]

4. State response

If the Division of Child and Family Services is the initial recipient of a report, it must immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. Similarly, if a law enforcement agency is the initial recipient it must immediately notify the nearest office of the Division.[769] In addition, the Division must forward copies of written reports to the statewide central register.[770]

The Division is required to conduct an investigation upon receipt of all reports. Upon completion of the initial investigation the Division must notify the person who made the initial report. The statute urges the Division to utilize an interdisciplinary approach that involves representatives from other relevant agencies (e.g., health, mental health, law enforcement). In cases in which law enforcement is conducting an investigation, the Division must assist in the investigation and not duplicate areas of the investigation already conducted.[771]