The Law in Plain English -
Pensacola ➔ Gulf Breeze ➔ Pace
Top Child Abuse Defense Attorney Jason Cromey, Esq. on:
Failure to Report Child Abuse: F.S. 39.201(1)(c)
Need help? Read more about Child Abuse Defense Attorney Jason Cromey, Esq.
Failure to Report Child Abuse - Over the past few years the Florida legislature has increased the number of people and types of professionals that need to report any known circumstances of child abuse or suspicions of active child abuse, as well as provide their names when they report. § 39.201(1)(a) requires [a]ny person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare…or that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (2).”
Put simply, if you know that a child is being abused by its caregiver/parent then you have a duty to report the abuse to DCF. The same is true if you suspect that a child is being abused by someone other than their parent or guardian. Finally, under 39.201(1)(c), if you know a child is being sexually abused you have a duty to report it.
While the vast majority of reporting to DCF is done anonymously, someone working in the following occupations must also provide their name to DCF: physicians, and hospital staff, mental health professionals, spiritual healers, school teachers or other school officials and personnel, social workers, day care center, foster care workers, law enforcement officers, and judges.
39.205 makes it a third-degree felony in Florida not to report child abuse when you are required to do so by law. This means that, for example, if a social worker or therapist fails to report suspected child abuse to the Department of Children and Families then that social worker or therapist is looking at up to five (5) years in state prison. If you have any questions about whether you need to report something or whether it is “reasonable for you to suspect” child abuse and therefore need to report it, contact my office to discuss your duties and obligations.