How many states have laws requiring mandated child abuse reporting?
Every state in the U.S. has laws identifying the persons required to report child maltreatment.
In addition, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands also have laws in place regarding mandated reporting.
While every state has mandated reporting laws, not all state requirements are equal.
Who is Required to Report?
Approximately 48 states and the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands designate mandated reporters by profession.
Typically, professionals who frequently come into contact with children have the added responsibility of knowing how to recognize and report suspected child abuse or neglect.
This may include:
- Daycare providers
- Physicians and other health care workers
- Mental health professionals
- Medical examiners and coroners
- Law enforcement officers
Are you a mandated reporter? Select your state from our Who Needs to Report tool to find out.
In New Jersey and Wyoming, ALL persons are required to report suspected child abuse, regardless of profession.
Can You Make a Report if the Law does Not Require It?
Even if you are not legally bound to report suspected child abuse in your state, you are still allowed to report a suspected incident. In all states and territories, any person is permitted to report.
These voluntary reporters are referred to as “permissive reporters.”
Is a Mandated Report Confidential?
Oftentimes, a professional may hesitate to make a report of suspected child maltreatment because they don’t want to face the repercussions, such as losing a job or being treated poorly by a child’s teacher, neighbor, or another community member.
“Privileged communications” is the statutory recognition of the right to maintain confidential communications between professionals and clients, patients, or congregants. To enable States to protect maltreated children, the reporting laws in most States and territories restrict this privilege for mandated reporters.
In many cases, a toll-free telephone number is available for each state that may allow a reporter to phone in a confidential, anonymous tip. However, 16 states plus the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands currently require mandatory reporters to provide their names and contact information, either in the initial oral report or as part of a written report to assist the investigation process.
How Will I Know How to Report Suspected Child Abuse?
Mandated reporter training is available to help the professionals who are legally required to report instances of suspected child maltreatment.
In some states, such as California, free profession-specific mandated reporter training is available.
Mandated reporters have a serious obligation to become watchdogs for the most vulnerable of our population. While mandated reporting may feel like a large undertaking, you have the opportunity to protect children from abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. Together, we can all work to protect children and ensure they get the bright future they deserve.