State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Washington statutes require mandated reporters to report all instances where they suspect that a child has suffered harm as the result of child abuse.[809] The definition of child abuse includes sexual abuse, and it does not include any provisions that indicate that it applies only to parents, guardians, or custodians of the child in question. However, there is no mention of the offenses of the previous section, and the statutes do not define sexual abuse.[810]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandatory reporters include: physical and mental health practitioners; law enforcement officers; professional school personnel; social service counselors; licensed or certified child care providers or their employees; employees of the Department of Social and Health Services; juvenile probation officers; placement and liaison specialists; responsible living skills program staff; HOPE center staff; or state family and children's ombudsman or any volunteer in the ombudsman's office.[811]

3. Who to report to

Mandatory reporters must notify the proper law enforcement agency or the Department of Social and Health Services within 48 hours of encountering a case of suspected abuse.[812] Initial reports may be made via telephone, and, if requested, must be followed by a written report.[813]

4. State response

The Department of Social and Health Services is required to notify law enforcement within 72 hours of receiving a report alleging sexual abuse and to follow the initial oral notification with a written report within 5 days.[814] The Department and law enforcement agencies are required to investigate all reports of abuse and report the results to the child protective services section of the Department.[815] All agencies that investigate child sexual abuse must have written protocols for handling the investigations. Coordinated investigations should include: the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, the Department, local advocacy groups, and any other local agency involved in the investigative process.[816]