All states designate certain professionals as mandated reporters – some states require all citizens to report. A mandated reporter is one who is required by law to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. Check your state mandatory reporting laws to determine if your profession is designated as a mandated reporter (Source: Darkness To Light).
Mandated Reporting for Children
- For unmarried children age 15 years or younger, this includes ALL forms of sexual conduct, physical abuse, or child neglect or maltreatment
- For children 14-15, consensual sexual conduct with a partner at least 14 years old at at most 18 years old is not a crime (Romeo and Juliet Clause)
- The age of consent in South Carolina is 16
Mandated Reporting for Adults
- Adults have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to report a sexual assault or other crimes
- The only exception to this is abuse or neglect of a person who meets definition of a “vulnerable adult”
- Eighteen or older
- Has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs him or her from adequately providing for his or her own care or protection
- Any resident of a facility is a vulnerable adult.
Who Is A Mandated Reporter?
- Medical, Health, and Mental Health workers
- physician, nurse, dentist, optometrist
- medical examiners, coroners, funeral home staff
- home health workers, staff or health facilities
- Trusted Positions
- clergy, Christian Science practitioners, religious healers
- child care workers, school counselors, educators, principals, truancy officers
- foster care facilities, foster parents
- law enforcement, judges, guardians ad litem
- Work with vulnerable populations
- social or public assistance workers
- substance abuse treatment staff
- department of Juvenile Justice officers
- Film processors and computer technicians
Do You Need Proof?
NO. Your suspicion of child abuse or neglect is enough to make a report. You are not required to provide proof. South Carolina law protects individuals who make good faith reports of child abuse. Your decision to report must be done with reasonable belief “in good faith” and “without malice”.
How To Respond
- Remain calm
- Believe the disclosure
- Praise/commend them for making the disclosure
- Let the person tell you what happened in his/her own words – do not investigate
- Reassure the person they are NOT in trouble for disclosing
- Ensure the person is safe right now or once they go home
What is Needed for a Report?
- Name, age, address or other identifying details
- Basic information about the situation
After Gathering the Information
- Inform them that the situation must be reported
Making a Report
- Ensure the survivor’s safety is needed