Mandatory Reporting Laws in Georgia
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 48 states have mandatory reporting laws that requiring certain professionals to report child abuse and neglect. While anyone working with children under 18 years of age who has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect should report it, some people are required by law to report. These people are often those who have frequent contact with children because of their job. The purpose of the mandatory reporting laws are to protect and prevent further abuse with the hope of improving the child's welfare and preserving the family.
Who is a State Mandated Reporter in Georgia?
According to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(c)(1), the following persons are required to report if they have reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred:
- Physicians, interns or residents;
- Hospital or medical personnel;
- Licensed psychologists and interns;
- RPNs and LPNs;
- Professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists;
- School teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, visiting teachers, social workers, or psychologists;
- Child welfare agency personnel;
- Child-counseling personnel;
- Child service organization personnel (includes volunteers);
- Law enforcement personnel;
- Reproductive health care facility or pregnancy resource center personnel and volunteers
As of July 1, 2012, this list greatly expanded to include child service organization personnel and clergy. Child service organization personnel means “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, recreational programs, or shelter to children.” O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(b)(5). This includes volunteer coaches, boy or girl scout troop leaders, and tutors. Clergy members are also required to report when they receive information about child abuse from any other source other than from confession or other similar communication.
How to Report in Georgia?
There are a couple of ways to report suspected child abuse. A report must be made immediately, or within 24 hours to your local DFCS office or law enforcement or by
- Calling DFCS centralized intake number (1-855-422-4453)
- Filling out the mandated reporter form online
What Happens When Someone Fails to Report?
A person who is required to report a suspected case of child abuse and fails to do so will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor convictions come with a penalty of a $1,000 fine, up to 1 year in jail, or both.
Contact Us Today
Because of the expansion of the statute in 2012, people that volunteer are held to the same criminal liability for failing to report suspended child abuse as professionals. We understand that volunteers may not be aware of their responsibility to report. If you have been charged with failing to report child abuse, contact our office immediately. Even though a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony charge, it can still have an impact on your future. We do not want your future hindered because of this charge. Our office has over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience and can help you today. Call now for a free case evaluation.