Mandated reporters are people required by law to report suspected or known instances of abuse. In most states, mandated reporters are designated by their profession. But in some states, all adults are considered mandated reporters. Because mandated reporter laws vary by state, understanding who a mandated reporter is can feel confusing.
Here is a simple guide to mandated reporters and what types of abuse they are legally required to report.
What is a Mandated Reporter?
Mandated reporters have an individual duty to report known or suspected abuse or neglect relating to children, elders, or dependent adults.
While the term mandated reporter is most often associated with persons who have a responsibility to report suspected child abuse, it can also refer to someone who reports abuse of adults, elderly persons, dependent adults, and adults with disabilities as well.
Types of Abuse and Who is Required to Report
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires each State to have provisions or procedures for requiring certain individuals to report known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect.
Approximately 47 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment. Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children.
The professionals most commonly mandated to report across the States include the following:
Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers
Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
Child care providers
Medical examiners or coroners
Law enforcement officers
Other professions that may be required to report suspected child abuse include commercial film or photographer processors, computer technicians, employees and volunteers at child day camps, youth centers, and recreation centers, as well as HR employees and supervisors of businesses that hire teen workers.
Most people who work with elders or disabled adults are mandated reporters under state law.
For example, California’s Adult Protective Services states:
“Any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not that person receives compensation, including administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder or dependent adults, or any elder or dependent adult care custodian, health practitioner, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency is a mandated reporter.”
The following professionals are often designated as mandated reporters of elder abuse:
Physician or other licensed health care provider
Mental health professional
Administrator or employee of nursing homes, residential care, or health care facilities
Guardian or conservator
Some states, such as CA and CO, require individuals to be mandated reporters even if they are providing unpaid care for an elderly person. In other states, such as Delaware and New Hampshire, any person is considered a mandated reporter of elder abuse, regardless of profession.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic abuse, doesn’t have the same legislative requirements as other types of abuse. In most instances, IPV reporting falls under Injury by Firearm or Assault/ Abuse requirements for health practitioners.
In California, for example, any health practitioner providing services in a health facility, clinic, or physician’s office who knows or reasonably suspects that a patient is the victim of assaultive or abusive conduct or a firearm injury is generally required to make a report.
Under CA requirements, all physical injuries known or reasonably suspected to have resulted from the following general categories of conduct must be reported:
Firearms—whether inflicted by the patient or another
Murder, manslaughter, mayhem, aggravated mayhem, torture, battery
Assault—including with intent to commit another crime, with a stun gun or taser, or with a deadly weapon
Administration of a controlled substance or anesthetic to aid in commission of a felony
Sexual battery, incest, rape, spousal rape, procuring a female to have sex with another man, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration
Throwing chemical substances with the intent to injure or disfigure
Child abuse or endangerment, lewd or lascivious acts with a child
Abuse of spouse or cohabitant
Attempt to commit any crime listed in bullet points above
Dependent Adult/ Adults with Disabilities Abuse
Every state, with the exception of New York, has mandated reporter requirements protecting adults with disabilities, but the list of who is included varies considerably. For example, fifteen states have universal reporting. This means that everyone in that state is required to report abuse, neglect, and exploitation as defined by that state’s statute. Many states provide broad definitions of who should report (e.g. all medical personnel) making it important that professionals review the statute for their own state.
Across states, the most often named mandated reporters for dependent adults or adults with disabilities are law enforcement and medical personnel.
The National Center on Elder Abuse offers a directory listing of state reporting numbers, government agencies, state laws, state-specific data and statistics, and other resources for reporting abuse for elderly and other vulnerable adults, including adult dependents and adults with disabilities.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) also provides a comprehensive state-by-state database where you can find state laws for mandatory reporting of children and adults, among other topics.
Join NAMR: Abuse Stops with Us
Mandated reporters who are legally required to report suspected abuse of children or adults are in a unique position to protect the most vulnerable of our populations. If you are a mandated reporter or just passionate about stopping abuse in your community, we invite you to join the National Association of Mandated Reporters (NAMR) to connect with other mandated reporters, stay up to date on legislation and requirements, and take action to stop abuse. Join NAMR today.