Mandatory reporter laws establish certain professionals and/or individuals as mandatory reporters. These laws typically require people who work closely with children in their profession to alert police or the appropriate authorities as to suspected abuse. As of March 2012, there are also 18 states whose laws require all citizens with knowledge or suspicion of abuse to report it the proper authorities.
The law also states the penalties for failing to report abuse. The Administration of Children & Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains the Child Welfare Information Gateway which includes information on mandatory reporting along with specific state laws. It is always advisable for individuals or professionals seeking information on their state mandatory reporter laws to refer to their state's government website for the specific legislation.
Georgia Child Protective System recognizes certain professionals as holding the important role of mandated reporter of child abuse or maltreatment. As a mandated reporter, you must report immediately when you have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who comes before you in your professional role is an abused or neglected child. You also are required to report when a parent or caretaker who comes before you in your professional role makes statements which, if correct, would mean their child is abused or neglected. Mandated reporters can be held liable by both the civil and criminal legal systems for intentionally failing to make a report.
The following mandated reporters having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused MUST make a report, immediately but no later than 24 hours, to the local DFCS office or law enforcement and are subject to criminal penalty for failing to do so:
- Physicians licensed to practice medicines, interns or residents;
- Hospital or medical personnel;
- Licensed psychologists and persons in internships to obtain licensing;
- Registered professional nurses or licensed practical nurses or nurse’s aides;
- Professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists;
- School teachers;
- School administrators;
- School guidance counselors, visiting teachers, school social workers, school psychologists;
- School means any public or private pre-kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, technical school, vocational school, college, university, or institution of postsecondary education.
- Child welfare agency personnel, as that agency is defined pursuant to Code Section 49-5-12;
- Child counseling personnel;
- Child service organization personnel defined as persons employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit or voluntary that provides care, treatment, education, training supervision, coaching, counseling, recreation programs or shelters to children.
- Law enforcement personnel;
- Clergy means ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, or similar functionaries by whatever name called, or a bona fide religious organization
- Exception: provided, however, that a member of the clergy shall not be required to report child abuse reported solely within the context of confession or other similar communication required to be kept confidential under church doctrine or practice.
- Exception: When a clergy member receives information about child abuse from any other source, the clergy member shall comply with the reporting requirements of this Code section, even though the clergy member may have also received a report of child abuse from the confession of the perpetrator.
- Reproductive health care facility or pregnancy resource center personnel and volunteers.
- Pregnancy Resource Centers means an organization or facility that provides pregnancy counseling or information as its primary purpose, either for a fee or as a free service; does not provide or refer for abortions; does not provide or refer for FDA DRUGS approved contraceptive or devices; and is not licensed or certified by the state or federal government to provide medical or health care services and is not otherwise bound to follow federal Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-191, or other state or federal laws relating to patient confidentiality.
- Reproductive health care facilities mean any office, clinic or any other physical location that provides abortions, abortion counseling, abortion referrals or gynecological care and services.