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Child Abuse: Is it your duty to report?

November 18, 2011
CHI Health


Child Abuse: Is it your duty to report?

Recent news stories have brought to light the fact that many people across the country just don’t know or aren’t aware of their state’s laws regarding the reporting of child abuse and neglect.

It’s easy to understand the confusion, as every state is different. A quick trip across the Missouri River, for example, and your duty, as a private citizen, to report completely changes. So that’s why we’re taking a step to help clear it up once and for all – at least for anyone living in our neck of the woods.

Nebraska’s laws on this topic are broad. State law requires all citizens to report suspected child abuse and neglect to either law enforcement, a Health and Human Services office or to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1 (800) 652-1999. Then law enforcement is tasked with the responsibility of investigating all reports to determine whether a crime has, in fact, been committed.

Iowa’s laws, however, focus specifically on key professions. Rather than require all citizens report abuse, Iowa state law defines a specific set of workers who must make a report of child abuse within 24 hours. This group of “mandatory reporters” is made up of professionals in key industries who have frequent contact with children, including healthcare, mental health, education, law enforcement, child care and social work (click here for a more in-depth look at who this includes). However, if anyone in the state of Iowa suspects child abuse, you’re urged to call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1 (800) 362-2178.

**Many thanks to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and to the Iowa Department of Health Services for providing clear and concise information about this topic. To find information regarding your state’s reporting requirements, visit the website of your local Department of Health Services.

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