1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements
Mandated reporters are required to report all instances of child abuse. The statutes define child abuse to include any sexual act in violation of the law, but it is limited to those acts perpetrated by the victim’s parent or other person responsible for the child’s care.
2. Mandatory reporters
Mandated reporters include the following individuals who encounter cases of suspected abuse through their professional or official capacity: physical and mental health practitioners; social workers; probation officers; teachers and school employees; child care providers; law enforcement officers; professional staff members of any institution caring for children; court-appointed special advocates; and any person associated with or employed by any private organization responsible for the care, custody, or control of children.
3. Who to report to
Mandated reporters must notify the Department of Social Services immediately if they suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse. Reporters can either make a report to the local Department or the statewide toll-free hotline maintained by the Department’s central office.
4. State response
The Department of Social Services is responsible for maintaining a toll-free hotline capable of receiving reports 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. The local office of the Department is responsible for the initial investigation of reported child abuse. If the Department receives a report of sexual abuse, it is required to notify the attorney for the Commonwealth and the local law enforcement agency. Additionally, local offices are encouraged to form multi-disciplinary teams for dealing with cases of child abuse. Team members should include representatives from the medical, mental health, social work, nursing, education, legal, and law enforcement professions. The statutes also require that the Department’s local offices establish memoranda of understanding with law enforcement and the state’s attorneys office.