In all states any person concerned for the welfare or safety of a child can voluntarily file a report. You do not have to be in a professional relationship with a family to contact CPS or police on behalf of a child. Remarkably, some very courageous children and teens have also contacted the authorities directly regarding their own or a sibling’s victimization.
Most professionals who work with families and children are mandated
All states require certain professionals or institutions to report suspected child abuse. Those required by law to file are considered mandated reporters. These professionals can include health care providers, mental health providers, crisis counselors, school personnel, social workers, day care providers and law enforcement personnel among others.
In some states additional professionals are now included on the list of mandated reporters: commercial film developers, substance abuse counselors, domestic violence professionals, court-appointed special advocates, and members of the clergy.
More states now include clergy as mandated reporters
Some states (26) have revised their reporting laws to now include clergy as mandatory reporters. In many states a faith leader’s knowledge of child abuse (of any kind) can no longer be considered privileged or confidential information. A member of the clergy who does not practice in a state where he/she is a mandated reporter may still consider notifying the authorities out of a personal or ethical obligation.
Some states now include all adults as mandated reporters
In an effort to encourage more adults to speak up on behalf of children, some states have changed their laws to require any person, (regardless of profession) who suspects child abuse or neglect, to report to authorities.