State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all instances of child abuse.[827] The statutes define child abuse to include sexual abuse of any individual under 18 years of age perpetrated by the victim’s parent, guardian, or custodian. Sexual abuse includes sexual intercourse, intrusion, or contact.[828]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include: physical and mental health practitioners; school teachers or other school personnel; social service workers; child care or foster care workers; emergency medical services personnel; peace officers or law enforcement officials; members of the clergy; circuit court judges; family law masters; employees of the Division of Juvenile Services; or magistrates.[829]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters must make a report to the local child protective services agency within 48 hours of encountering a case of suspected abuse. In cases where the suspected abuse includes sexual abuse, reporters must also notify the Division of Public Safety and any law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offense.[830] Initial reports may be made via telephone, and, if requested, must be followed by a written report within 48 hours.[831]

4. State response

The Department of Health and Human Services must maintain a 24 hour, 7 day-a-week hotline dedicated to receiving reports of suspected abuse.[832] The Department is also responsible for establishing or designating a local child protective services office in each county that is responsible for initiating investigations of reported child abuse.[833] These offices and the Department are required to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency and the prosecuting attorney in cases where the suspected abuse includes sexual abuse.[834]