State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Wisconsin’s requirements regarding the reporting of child abuse make specific reference to sexual assault in the first and second degree. The definition of abuse does not include sexual intercourse with a child who is at least 16 years of age. The definition does not include any provisions that indicate that it applies only to persons responsible for the child in question.[842]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include the following individuals who encounter cases of suspected abuse through their professional duties: physical and mental health providers; social workers; marriage and family therapists; public assistance workers; school teachers, administrators, and counselors; child-care workers and day care providers; alcohol and drug abuse counselors; police and law enforcement officers; and court-appointed special advocates.[843]

Health care practitioners that provide children with family planning services, pregnancy testing, obstetrical health care or screening, or diagnosis and treatment for a sexually transmitted disease are exempted from the reporting requirements unless they have reason to suspect that:

  • The sexual acts occurred, or are likely to occur, with the child’s caregiver; or
  • The child suffers from a mental illness or deficiency that renders the child incapable of understanding the consequences of his or her actions; or
  • The child, because of his or her age or immaturity, is incapable of understanding the nature or consequences of sexual intercourse or contact; or
  • The other participant in the sexual acts is exploiting the child; or
  • The child’s participation in the sexual acts is not voluntary.[844]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters who suspect that a child has been abused must make an immediate report—by telephone or in person—to the county Department of Human Services (or, in a county with a population of at least 500,000, a licensed child welfare agency under contract with the Department); the sheriff; or the city, village, or town police department.[845]

4. State response

Law enforcement must notify the county Department of Human Services (or, in a county with a population of at least 500,000, a licensed child welfare agency under contract with the Department) within 12 hours of receiving a report of child abuse. The Department must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of reports it receives alleging sexual abuse. In cases involving sexual abuse, the Department and law enforcement must coordinate with one another in the investigation. Within 60 days of receiving a report, law enforcement or the Department must determine whether the alleged abuse occurred and must notify the reporter of what actions have been taken as a result of the report. If the investigation indicates that reported action is a criminal offense, the case must be referred to the district attorney.[846]