Every child deserves to feel safe and secure.
Mandated Reporter information
Reporters play a crucial role in keeping children safe and assisting a family’s access to services.
Florida law states that everyone in the state of Florida is considered a mandated reporter. This means that anyone who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected must report.
Professionals who are in certain occupations are considered “professionally-mandated reporters.” This means that a professionally-mandated reporter must provide his or her name to the abuse hotline counselor when reporting.
Professionally mandated reporters are listed below:
- Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractic physician, nurse, or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons
- Health or mental health professional
- Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing
- School teacher, other school official or personnel
- Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care, foster care, residential, or institutional worker
Professionally-mandated reporters have frequent contact with children at risk and families in crisis, creating an early opportunity to initiate needed intervention, support and services.
Examples of case scenarios from professionally mandated reporters:
Six-year-old Sammy presents at the emergency room with a broken arm, and the nurse notices other marks and bruises on the child that appear suspicious.
Outgoing 15-year-old Trish, a star volleyball player, has become withdrawn, her grades have slipped and she is not playing as well as usual. Coach Brown has a good relationship with the team and asks Trish what is going on. Trish discloses that her stepfather is molesting her.
Law Enforcement responds to a 911 call for a domestic disturbance and observes mom having marks on her face and neck. Mom says that this only happens when her husband has been drinking. Officer Barrett finds 3 scared children hiding in the closet. The children tell the officer that Daddy drinks every day and hits Mommy all the time.
Stacey, a 3-year-old at preschool, needs her pull-up changed. Ms. Pat notices that the child has odd shaped bruises on her bottom and lower back. Stacey says she got a spanking because she is bad and she wet the bed.
Ms. Darla, school counselor, is concerned about two children due to excessive school absences and tardiness. Ms. Darla visits the home of 8-year-old Carl and his 5-year-old sister Cathy to find that the children are home alone, the home is dirty and they have little food. Carl says that his mom and her boyfriend leave them home by themselves “all the time” and they miss the bus a lot for school because Mommy is not home to take them to the bus stop.
- Reporters’ names are kept confidential.
- A person who knowingly and willfully makes public or discloses any confidential information contained in the central abuse hotline or in the records of any child abuse, abandonment, or neglect case, except as provided in this chapter, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree.
- This is for the protection of the family and the reporter.
Penalties for not reporting
- Knowingly or willfully failing to report or prevent another person from reporting is a third degree felony.
- Failure to report known or suspected abuse while living in the same household as the victim is a third degree felony – up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.
Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act
Administrators who knowingly and willfully, upon receiving information from faculty, staff, or other institution employees, fail to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect committed on the property of the university, college, or school, or during an event or function sponsored by the university, college, or school, or who knowingly and willfully prevent another person from doing so, shall be subject to $1 million for each such failure.
How to report
- By Telephone at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
- By Fax at 1-800-914-0004
- By TDD at 1-800-453-5145
- Web reporting at https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/
Remember – taking the time to report your suspicions might be the only hope that child has.