Do I have to report suspected child abuse?

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In Kentucky, ANY person who knows or has "reasonable cause" to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect has a duty to make a report to the Child Abuse Reporting Hotline (1-800-752-6200) of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), local law enforcement or Kentucky State Police, the County or Commonwealth Attorneys’ Office. The report can be made by telephone or in writing. "Reasonable cause" means that the evidence available to that person, if presented to other individuals of similar background and training, would make those individuals think that the child was abused or neglected.

How do I report suspected child abuse?
If you have reason to believe a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, immediately call the Kentucky Child Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-800-752-6200. This number is answered 24-hours a day, seven days a week. If you cannot get through to this number for any reason, call your county's Child Protective Services Office (in the Office for Health and Family Services), the local police, or the County or Commonwealth Attorneys' Office.

What if I don’t report suspected child abuse?
You could be charged with a crime. Any person who fails to report suspected child abuse or neglect may be charged with Failure to Report Child Abuse, a Class B misdemeanor and subjected to a fine or time in jail.

Will the person I report as committing the abuse or neglect find out my name?
No - state confidentiality laws protect your identity, so the only people who will know your name are the persons involved in investigating the report. Even if Child Protective Services (CPS) decides the child was not abused or neglected, the person you report cannot sue you. However, if you make your report in bad faith (that is, you know that the report is false), you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and may be held liable to the person you falsely accused.

This does not mean that you must know that your report is accurate. You are only reporting suspected abuse or neglect and the law presumes that all such reports are made in good faith. CPS is responsible for determining whether abuse or neglect has actually occurred. However, you cannot make a report that you know is not true.

What happens after I make my report?
Child Protective Services (CPS) of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will determine whether child abuse or neglect has actually occurred. CPS will immediately make an initial determination about the immediate safety of the child. The Cabinet will have to make a report to the Commonwealth's or county attorneys' office and law enforcement about action that has been taken on the investigation with 72 hours (three days, not counting weekends and/or holidays). If the alleged abuser is not someone who is a parent, guardian or someone having custodial control or supervision of the child, the Cabinet will notify the Commonwealth's or county attorneys' office and law enforcement for investigation.

Reviewed August 2009