1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements
Mandated reporters are required to report all instances where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of abuse, including sexual abuse. However, child abuse is defined to only include those acts perpetrated by a parent, legal guardian, other person responsible for the child’s health or welfare, teacher, or a member of the clergy.
The statue also states that there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse if a child less than 12 years of age is pregnant or has a sexually transmitted disease—thereby necessitating a report.
2. Mandatory reporters
Mandated reporters include: physical and mental health providers; social workers; school administrators, teachers and counselors; law enforcement officers; members of the clergy; regulated child care providers; and relevant employees of the Family Independence Agency. Privileged communication between attorney and client or that made to a member of the clergy in his or her professional capacity is exempted from the reporting requirements.
3. Who to report to
Mandated reporters must make an immediate oral report, by telephone or otherwise, of suspected abuse to the Family Independence Agency. This must be followed by a written report within 72 hours.
4. State response
The Family Independence Agency is responsible for investigating reports of abuse. However, if the report includes allegations of sexual abuse or if the alleged defendant is someone not responsible for the child’s well-being, the Agency must notify, seek the assistance of, and cooperate with the law enforcement agency in the county where the alleged abuse occurred within 24 hours of receiving the report. The Agency is also required to inform the prosecuting attorney of allegations involving sexual abuse. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor’s office and the Agency in each county to establish procedures for involving law enforcement in their investigations.