State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

The District of Columbia Code requires mandated reporters to notify the proper authorities in all instances where, through their professional capacity, they suspect a child has been or is in immediate danger of being physically or mentally abused. The requirement does not include any provisions that indicate that it applies only to parents, guardians, or custodians of the child in question.[180]  Although the statute does not make specific reference to the criminal offenses listed in the previous section, the definition does include sexual abuse of and sexual activity with children.[181]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandatory reporters include: physical and mental health providers; law enforcement officers; school officials and teachers; social service workers; and day care workers.[182]

3. Who to report to

Mandatory reporters must immediately make an oral report to the Metropolitan Police Department or the Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Human Services if they know or suspect a child has been or is in danger of abuse.[183] Upon the request of Child Protective Services or the police department, the mandated reporter must also submit a written report of the case.[184]

4. State response

The Child and Family Services Agency must immediately inform the police of any report it receives of alleged abuse.[185] The police department has the primary responsibility for the initial investigation of alleged abuse.[186] The police department is not required to notify the Agency of alleged abuse and the outcome of any investigation which substantiates a report.[187]

The District of Columbia Code requires that a multidisciplinary investigation team (MDT) review and investigate all instances of child sexual abuse. The primary focus of the MDT’s investigation is the needs of the child—the secondary focus is on law enforcement and prosecution. The MDT must include at least one individual from the police department, the Child and Family Services Agency, the Office of the Corporation Counsel, and a representative from the Office of the United States Attorney and the Children’s Advocacy Center.[188]