Location:
CHILD ABUSE;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


November 30, 2011

 

2011-R-0397

MANDATED REPORTING OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

By: Robin K. Cohen, Principal Analyst

You asked us to (1) list all Connecticut mandated reporters of child sexual abuse and (2) identify states that have a universal mandated reporter requirement (i.e., they require anyone to report, not just enumerated professionals).

SUMMARY

Connecticut law requires people in certain professions or occupations that typically bring them into contact with children and parents to report to either the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or law enforcement officials if, during the ordinary course of their employment or profession, they reasonably suspect that a child under age 18 has been abused. These people, who are generally referred to as mandated reporters, include physicians and other health care workers, teachers and other school employees, law enforcement officials, child care providers, mental health professionals, DCF employees, and domestic violence workers. All other members of the public are nonmandated reporters, who may but are not required to report suspected abuse.

Eighteen states have a universal reporter requirement, meaning that anyone who suspects child abuse is required to report. Sixteen of these specify professionals who must report but also require everyone else to report, regardless of profession. Of the 18, nearly half appear to mandate reports only in situations where the abuse is perpetrated by a parent or other person responsible for the child's care or custody.

REPORTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Each state has laws requiring certain people to report child abuse and neglect concerns. While some states require everyone to report their concerns, others identify specific professionals as mandated reporters. The laws usually include specific procedures for making referrals to child protective service agencies or law enforcement officials. For a description of Connecticut's procedures when a case involves sexual abuse or assault, see DCF policy 33-7-6.

CONNECTICUT'S REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Mandated Reporters

Connecticut law requires certain individuals, who in the ordinary course of their employment or profession, have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child under age 18 has been abused or neglected, to report to DCF (24-hour hotline) or law enforcement officials.

Under the law, “abused” means that a child or youth (1) is being inflicted with physical injury other than by accident; (2) has injuries at variance with the history reported; or (3) is in a condition that is the result of maltreatment, including sexual molestation (CGS 46b-120).

The DCF commissioner must inform law enforcement officials within 12 hours of receiving any report alleging sexual abuse or assault of a child. (DCF policy defines “sexual abuse” as abuse of a sexual nature perpetrated by a parent, guardian, or caretaker or an adult family or household member. “Sexual assault” is assault of a sexual nature perpetrated by someone other than these individuals.) The particular circumstances surrounding these types of alleged incidents dictate whether DCF does its own investigation.

The following individuals must report allegations of child abuse and neglect in Connecticut:

licensed physicians, including surgeons; hospital residents and interns, regardless of their licensure status; and physician assistants

registered nurses and licensed practical nurses

medical examiners

dentists and dental hygienists

mental health professionals, including psychologists, marital and family therapists, alcohol and drug counselors, social workers, and licensed professional counselors

police officers

juvenile or adult probation or parole officers

clergy

pharmacists

physical therapists

optometrists

chiropractors

podiatrists

licensed or certified emergency medical services providers

sexual assault counselors and battered women's counselors

licensed foster parents

anyone paid to care for a child in a licensed public or private facility or a licensed child care facility, including family day care homes

DCF employees

Department of Public Health employees responsible for licensing child care facilities and youth camps

child advocate and her employees

family relations counselors, trainees, or family services supervisors employed by the Judicial Department

school (elementary and secondary only) teachers and substitute teachers

school administrators and superintendents

school guidance counselors

school paraprofessionals

school coaches

● any other person who, in the performance of his or her duties, has regular contact with students and who provides services to or on behalf of students enrolled in (1) a public elementary or secondary school, under a contract with a local or regional board of education or (2) a private elementary or secondary school, under a contract with the school's supervisory agent (CGS 17a-101, as amended by PA 11-93, and 53a-65).

Optional Reporting

Connecticut law also allows any mandated reporter acting outside of his or her professional capacity and anyone else having reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child under age 18 is in danger of being abused, or has been abused or neglected, to report to the DCF commissioner or her representative or a law enforcement agency (CGS 17a-103).

OTHER STATES' MANDATED REPORTING

All but two of the states listed in Table 1 require everyone, not just enumerated professionals, to report suspected child abuse. New Jersey and Wyoming do not list the professionals and merely require anyone suspecting abuse to report, regardless of profession. About half of the states appear to require reporting only when the alleged perpetrator is the child's parent or otherwise has supervisory control of the child.

TABLE 1: STATES WITH UNIVERSAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

State

Cite

To Whom Abuse is Reported

Alleged Perpetrator Must Be Parent or Other Responsible Party

Delaware

Del. Code Ann. Tit. 16 903

Child protective services (CPS) agency

No

Florida

Fla. Stat. Ann. 39.201 and 39.01

State's central child abuse hotline

Yes

Idaho

Idaho Code Ann. 16-1605

Proper law enforcement officials or CPS agency

No

Indiana

Ind. Code 31-33-5-1

Law enforcement officials or CPS agency

No

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 600.020 and 620.030

Local law enforcement officials, state police, CPS agency, or state's or county's attorney

Yes

Maryland

Md. Ann. Code 5-701 and 5-705

Local CPS department or appropriate law enforcement agency

Yes

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. 43-21-353

CPS agency

No

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-711

Proper law enforcement agency or CPS agency

No

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 169-C:29

CPS agency

No

New Jersey [1]

N.J. Rev. Stat. 9:6-8.10 and 9:6-8.9

CPS agency

Yes

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. 32A-4-3 and 32A-4-2

Local law enforcement agency, CPS agency, or tribal law enforcement or social services agency

Yes

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-101 and 7B-301

CPS agency

Yes

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. Tit. 10A, 1-1-105 and 1-2-101

CPS agency

Yes

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws 40-11-2 and 40-11-3 (a)

CPS agency

Yes

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. 37-1-403; 37-1-605

Judge having jurisdiction over the child, CPS agency, or local law enforcement agency

No

Texas

Tex. Fam. Code Ann. 261.101 & -.103

CPS agency or law enforcement agency

No

Utah

Utah Code Ann. 62A-4a-403

Law enforcement or CPS agency

No

Wyoming [1]

Wy. Ann. Stat. 14-3-205

CPS or local law enforcement agency

No

[1] These states do not enumerate individuals

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

DCF policy on mandated reporters

OLR Public Act Summary of PA 11-93

RC:ts