What are the Legal Obligations of a Family Member to Report Sexual Abuse of a Minor?
A family member would be classified as a permissive reporter. The legal consequences may not be as serious as the ethical ones. The inquiry to be made depends on how a relative will feel upon learning of further abuse that may have been prevented.
The following are Iowa statutes:
232.69 Mandatory and permissive reporters — training required.
1. The classes of persons enumerated in this subsection shall make
a report within twenty-four hours and as provided in section 232.70, of
cases of child abuse. In addition, the classes of persons enumerated in
this subsection shall make a report of abuse of a child who is under
twelve years of age and may make a report of abuse of a child who is
twelve years of age or older, which would be defined as child abuse
under section 232.68, subsection 2, paragraph "c" or "e",
except that the abuse resulted from the acts or omissions of a person
other than a person responsible for the care of the child.
a. Every health practitioner who in the scope of professional
practice, examines, attends, or treats a child and who reasonably
believes the child has been abused. Notwithstanding section 139A.30,
this provision applies to a health practitioner who receives
information confirming that a child is infected with a sexually
b. Any of the following persons who, in the scope of professional
practice or in their employment responsibilities, examines, attends,
counsels, or treats a child and reasonably believes a child has
(1) A social worker.
(2) An employee or operator of a public or private health care facility
as defined in section 135C.1.
(3) A certified psychologist.
(4) A licensed school employee, certified para-educator, holder of a
coaching authorization issued under section 272.31, or an instructor
employed by a community college.
(5) An employee or operator of a licensed child care center, registered
child development home, head start program, family development and
self-sufficiency grant program under section 216A.107, or healthy
opportunities for parents to experience success — healthy families Iowa
program under section 135.106.
(6) An employee or operator of a substance abuse program or facility
licensed under chapter 125.
(7) An employee of a department of human services institution listed in
(8) An employee or operator of a juvenile detention or juvenile shelter
care facility approved under section 232.142.
(9) An employee or operator of a foster care facility licensed or
approved under chapter 237.
(10) An employee or operator of a mental health center.
(11) A peace officer.
(12) A counselor or mental health professional.
(13) An employee or operator of a provider of services to children
funded under a federally approved medical assistance home and
community-based services waiver.
2. Any other person who believes that a child has been abused may make
a report as provided in section 232.70.
3. a. For the purposes of this subsection, "licensing
board" means a board designated in section 147.13, the board of
educational examiners created in section 272.2, or a licensing board as
defined in section 272C.1.
b. A person required to make a report under subsection 1, other
than a physician whose professional practice does not regularly involve
providing primary health care to children, shall complete two hours of
training relating to the identification and reporting of child abuse
within six months of initial employment or self-employment involving
the examination, attending, counseling, or treatment of children on a
regular basis. Within one month of initial employment or
self-employment, the person shall obtain a statement of the abuse
reporting requirements from the person's employer or, if self-employed,
from the department. The person shall complete at least two hours of
additional child abuse identification and reporting training every five
c. If the person is an employee of a hospital or similar
institution, or of a public or private institution, agency, or
facility, the employer shall be responsible for providing the child
abuse identification and reporting training. If the person is
self-employed, employed in a licensed or certified profession, or
employed by a facility or program that is subject to licensure,
regulation, or approval by a state agency, the person shall obtain the
child abuse identification and reporting training as provided in
d. The person may complete the initial or additional training
requirements as part of any of the following that are applicable to the
(1) A continuing education program required under chapter 272C and
approved by the appropriate licensing board.
(2) A training program using a curriculum approved by the abuse
education review panel established by the director of public health
pursuant to section 135.11.
(3) A training program using such an approved curriculum offered by the
department of human services, the department of education, an area
education agency, a school district, the Iowa law enforcement academy,
or a similar public agency.
e. A licensing board with authority over the license of a person
required to make a report under subsection 1 shall require as a
condition of licensure that the person is in compliance with the
requirements for abuse training under this subsection. The licensing
board shall require the person upon licensure renewal to accurately
document for the licensing board the person's completion of the
training requirements. However, the licensing board may adopt
rules providing for waiver or suspension of the compliance requirements, if
the waiver or suspension is in the public interest, applicable to a
person who is engaged in active duty in the military service of this
state or of the United States, to a person for whom compliance with the
training requirements would impose a significant hardship, or to a
person who is practicing a licensed profession outside this state or is
otherwise subject to circumstances that would preclude the person from
encountering child abuse in this state.
f. For persons required to make a report under subsection 1 who
are not engaged in a licensed profession that is subject to the
authority of a licensing board but are employed by a facility or
program subject to licensure, registration, or approval by a state
agency, the agency shall require as a condition of renewal of the
facility's or program's licensure, registration, or approval, that such
persons employed by the facility or program are in compliance with the
training requirements of this subsection.
g. For peace officers, the elected or appointed official
designated as the head of the agency employing the peace officer shall
ensure compliance with the training requirements of this subsection.
h. For persons required to make a report under subsection 1 who
are employees of state departments and political subdivisions of the
state, the department director or the chief administrator of the
political subdivision shall ensure the persons' compliance with the
training requirements of this subsection.
232.70 Reporting procedure.
1. Each report made by a mandatory reporter, as defined in
section 232.69, subsection 1, shall be made both orally and in writing. Each report
made by a permissive reporter, as defined in section 232.69, subsection 2,
may be oral, written, or both.
2. The employer or supervisor of a person who is a mandatory or
permissive reporter shall not apply a policy, work rule, or other
requirement that interferes with the person making a report of child abuse.
3. The oral report shall be made by telephone or otherwise to the
department of human services. If the person making the report has reason to
believe that immediate protection for the child is advisable, that person
shall also make an oral report to an appropriate law enforcement agency.
4. The written report shall be made to the department of human services
within forty-eight hours after such oral report.
5. Upon receipt of a report the department shall do all of the following:
a. Immediately, upon receipt of an oral report, make a determination as
to whether the report constitutes an allegation of child abuse as defined
in section 232.68.
b. Notify the appropriate county attorney of the receipt of the report.
6. The oral and written reports shall contain the following information,
or as much thereof as the person making the report is able to furnish:
a. The names and home address of the child and the child's parents or
other persons believed to be responsible for the child's care;
b. The child's present whereabouts if not the same as the parent's or
other person's home address;
c. The child's age;
d. The nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence
of previous injuries;
e. The name, age and condition of other children in the same home;
f. Any other information which the person making the report believes
might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury to the child, the
identity of the person or persons responsible for the injury, or in
providing assistance to the child; and
g. The name and address of the person making the report.
7. A report made by a permissive reporter, as defined in section 232.69,
subsection 2, shall be regarded as a report pursuant to this
chapter whether or not the report contains all of the information required by this
section and may be made to the department of human services, county
attorney, or law enforcement agency. If the report is made to any agency
other than the department of human services, such agency shall promptly
refer the report to the department of human services.
8. If a report would be determined to constitute an allegation of child
abuse as defined under section 232.68, subsection 2, paragraph "c" or "e",
except that the suspected abuse resulted from the acts or omissions of a
person other than a person responsible for the care of the child, the
department shall refer the report to the appropriate law enforcement agency
having jurisdiction to investigate the allegation. The department shall
refer the report orally as soon as practicable and in writing within
seventy-two hours of receiving the report.
9. Within twenty-four hours of receiving a report from a mandatory or
permissive reporter, the department shall inform the reporter, orally or by
other appropriate means, whether or not the department has commenced an
assessment of the allegation in the report.
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