Report Child Abuse
If you know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused, you must by law, report it immediately.
Reasonable cause to suspect – a light standard to meet and is clearly met if child makes any kind of disclosure.
If the child has any wound, injury, disability, or other mental or physical condition, which on the basis of available information reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect, you must by law, report it immediately.
Reasonably appears – Any injuries that raises suspicion – If the explanation is not consistent with the type of injury.
Failure to report Child abuse is a class A misdemeanor, which has a potential sentence up to one year in jail. Good, well meaning people have been charged under this statute in cases where evidence was comprised or additional abuse occurred as a result of their failure to immediately report. Failure to immediately report is usually the result of:
- A lack of understanding of the requirements of the law.
- Uncertainty as to how to proceed (No clear policy)
- The weight of making such a report based on your own objective suspicion.
- The desire to verify, corroborates, or refutes your information before reporting.
The following statute is very clear in addressing who is responsible for reporting such abuse. The phrase “ any person” includes all professionals and everyday citizens alike. No one is excluded form the responsibility of reporting abuse nor are they immune to the consequences for failure to report.
Legal Responsibility of Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect
37-1-605. Reports of known or suspected child sexual child abuse Investigations-
(a) Any person including, but not limited to, any:
- Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractor, nurse or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons;
- Health or mental health professional other than one listed in subdivision (1)
- Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing;
- School teacher or other school official or personnel;
- Judge of any court of the state;
- Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care, foster care, residential or institutional worker;
- Law enforcement officer; or
- Neighbor, relative, friend or any other person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused; shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (b).
(b) (1) Each report of known or suspected child sexual abuse pursuant to this section shall be made immediately to the local office of the department responsible for the investigation of reports made pursuant to this section or to the judge having juvenile jurisdiction or to the office of the sheriff or the chief law enforcement official of the municipality where the child resides.
Please refer to Title 37 Juveniles for more information