Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

Hot on the heels of the Penn State child abuse scandal comes Georgia Senate Bill 355. This bill makes it a mandatory legal requirement that anyone “…who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused shall report [the abuse]…”

I went and pulled up Title 19, Chapter 7, Article 1 to see what the definition of “abuse” is. It is quite extensive:

(b) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) “Abused” means subjected to child abuse.

(2) “Child” means any person under 18 years of age.

(3) “Child abuse” means:

(A) Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by other than accidental means; provided, however, physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child;

(B) Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker thereof;

(C) Sexual abuse of a child; or

(D) Sexual exploitation of a child.

However, no child who in good faith is being treated solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered to be an “abused” child.

There is a further section detailing what “sexual abuse” is; I won’t repeat it. You can always go read it for yourself

This bill takes the list of people who are required to report child abuse (already contained int the code, repeated at the bottom of this post) and expands it to include everyone.

I find the wording of the child abuse definitions to be unhelpfully vague. For example, let’s take this one:

(A) Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by other than accidental means; provided, however, physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child;

This could be interpreted, I suppose, that any form of sport that is deliberately undertaken by the guardian and child, that involves contact or other physical stress, could be child abuse. Football, after all, involves hitting people. So does hockey.

This bill was put up by Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and the Senate Majority leader, Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) (also my state senator). It’s in the senate hopper right now, so it hasn’t gone anywhere (yet). We’ll see what happens.


Here is the list of people already required to report child abuse to the state authorities.

(c)(1) The following persons having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused shall report or cause reports of that abuse to be made as provided in this Code section:

(A) Physicians licensed to practice medicine, interns, or residents;

(B) Hospital or medical personnel;

(C) Dentists;

(D) Licensed psychologists and persons participating in internships to obtain licensing pursuant to Chapter 39 of Title 43;

(E) Podiatrists;

(F) Registered professional nurses or licensed practical nurses licensed pursuant to Chapter 24 of Title 43;

(G) Professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists licensed pursuant to Chapter 10A of Title 43;

(H) School teachers;

(I) School administrators;

(J) School guidance counselors, visiting teachers, school social workers, or school psychologists certified pursuant to Chapter 2 of Title 20;

(K) Child welfare agency personnel, as that agency is defined pursuant to Code Section 49-5-12;

(L) Child-counseling personnel;

(M) Child service organization personnel; or

(N) Law enforcement personnel.

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