State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

09/25/2000

1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Connecticut statutes require mandated reporters to report all instances where they suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse.[144] Although the statute does not make specific reference to the sexual assault laws described in the previous section, it does define abuse to include sexual molestation.[145] The reporting requirement does not include any provisions that indicate that it applies only to parents, guardians, or custodians of the child in question; the statutes require the Commissioner of Children and Families to establish a telephone hotline to receive reports or abuse regardless of the relationship of the alleged defendant to the child in question.[146]

In response to a query from the Commissioner of Children and Families, the Connecticut Attorney General issued an opinion interpreting the reporting requirements.[147] The query specifically addressed providers’ responsibilities in cases involving a victim who is at least 13 years of age and less than 16 years where the defendant is less than 21 years of age and more than 2 years older than the victim. The Attorney General concluded that, despite the fact that such a relationship would be considered illegal, mandated reporters are not required to make a report if no other evidence of abuse exists. In justifying the opinion, the Attorney General cites the statute related to the treatment of minors for sexually transmitted diseases, which only requires providers to report cases where the minor seeking treatment is less than 13 years of age.[148]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include: physical and mental health providers; athletic coaches; school employees; social workers; law enforcement and corrections officers; members of the clergy; licensed or certified alcohol and drug counselors; sexual assault and battered women’s counselors; child care workers; and employees of the Department of Public Health or the Department of Children and Families.[149]

3. Who to report to

Upon learning of a suspected case of abuse, mandated reporters must make an oral report within 12 hours to the Commissioner of Children and Families (in person or via the telephone hotline) or a law enforcement agency.[150] Within 48 hours of making the initial report, mandated reporters are required to submit a written report to the Commissioner of Children and Families.[151]

4. State response

Law enforcement is required to immediately notify the Commissioner of Children and Families of the receipt of any reports of abuse. If the Commissioner of Children and Families receives a report involving sexual assault, the appropriate law enforcement agency must be notified within 12 hours.[152] Furthermore, in cases where the alleged defendant is not responsible for the child’s health, welfare, or care the Commissioner of Children and Families is required to refer the report to the appropriate local law enforcement agency.[153]

The statutes also require that there is a child abuse unit within the Department of Public Safety’s Division of State Police that can assist local law enforcement with the investigation of abuse.[154]