GUIDE TO REPORTING CHILD ABUSE
If you suspect child abuse please report it immediately. Please find below a guide to the law with regards to reporting child abuse. This is only an overview of the current state of the law in Missouri. If you have questions or are unsure please contact the Children’s Division at 1-800-392-3738.
1. ABUSE AND NEGLECT
RSMo 210.110.(1) defines “abuse” as:
“. . . any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child’s care, custody, and control, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse.”
For mandated reporters, RSMo 210.115 further defines abuse as “not limited to abuse inflicted by a person responsible for the child’s care, custody and control as specified in section 210.110, but shall also include abuse inflicted by any other person.”
RSMo 210.110.(12) defines “neglect” as:
“. . . failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being.”
A child is any person, regardless of physical or mental condition, under eighteen years of age. RSMo Section 210.110.(4).
2. MANDATED REPORTERS
The following classifications of people under RSMo Section 210.115 are considered mandated reporters and must report suspected child abuse or neglect:
- Teachers, principals, and other school officials
- Health care professionals (physicians, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, residents, interns, nurses, hospital or clinic personnel)
- Mental health professionals
- Social workers
- Day care/child-care workers
- Law enforcement officials (police officers, juvenile officers, probation/parole officers, jail or detention facility personnel)
- Other persons with responsibility for the care of children.
3. THE STANDARD FOR REPORTING
If a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect, or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, that person must immediately report or cause a report to be made to the Children’s Division. Mandated reporters must report abuse inflicted by a person responsible for the child’s care, custody and control as well as abuse inflicted by any other person. RSMo Section 210.115.
Failure to report is a class A misdemeanor.
4. PERMISSIVE REPORTER
Permissive reporters such as friends, family members or relatives are not required to report abuse but may report abuse if they have a reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect. Permissive reporters may also report if they observe a child under conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.
5. HOW TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE
CALL THE HOTLINE AT 1-800-392-3738, The Children’s Division staff this hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They will take information from you and respond to child abuse and neglect. If you live outside Missouri and want to report abuse or neglect of a Missouri child, call (573) 751-3448.
HAVE COMPLETE INFORMATION READY. The Children’s Division needs specific information to be able to respond to a complaint of abuse or neglect. Be sure you have:
- The name of the child
- The name of the parent(s)
- The name of the alleged abuser
- Where the child can be located
- Is the child in a life-threatening situation now?
- How do you know about the abuse/neglect?
- Did you witness the abuse/neglect?
- Were there other witnesses and how can they be contacted?