Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

In most states certain professions, such as: social workers, teachers and other school personnel, health care workers (i.e. doctors, nurses, mental health professionals), child care providers, medical examiners, law enforcement officers, are required to report suspected child abuse/neglect to the appropriate authorities in that state. Some states, however, require ANY PERSON to report child abuse/neglect not only certain professionals. New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the only New England states that presently have such a requirement. The New Hampshire Statute requiring any person to report is RSA 169-C:29. Other sections of the statute also lay out how to report and the information needed:

  • An oral report shall be made immediately by telephone or otherwise, and followed within 48 hours by a report in writing, if so requested, to the NH Division for Children Youth and Families
  • Such report shall, if known, contain the name and address of the child suspected of being neglected or abused and the person responsible for the child’s welfare, the specific information indicating neglect or the nature and extent of the child’s injuries (including any evidence of previous injuries), the identity of the person or persons suspected of being responsible for such neglect or abuse, and any other information that might be helpful in establishing neglect or abuse or that may be required by the department.
  • If you make a report in good faith in making a report under this chapter is immune from liability.
  • Only the Attorney- Client privilege trumps this reporting law, all other otherwise privileged communications are subject to it.
  • If you fail to report, you may be charged and found guilty of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable in NH by up to one year’s imprisonment, a $1,000 fine or both.

For those of you in NH that encounter children in your daily lives (which I venture to guess is most people), please be aware of this law and if you suspect abuse of a child please report it, not only for the child’s wellbeing, but to keep yourself in compliance with NH law.