Is Child Abuse Reporting Mandatory in Arizona?
The neglect, physical and emotional abuse of children are all serious criminal offenses. Arizona has a range of sanctions for the individuals found guilty of child abuse. When it comes to the identification of such crimes, however, do certain people have the obligation to report? Is child abuse reporting mandatory? Arizona regulations make it mandatory for certain groups of people to report child abuse. If these individuals fail producing the necessary report, they face misdemeanor charges.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3620
According to A.R.S. 13-3620, any person who reasonably believes that a minor is being subjected to abuse or physical injury has to either immediately file a report or inform another individual who has the responsibility to report such abuse. The individuals who are obliged to file reports about child abuse and neglect include the following:
- Physicians and other healthcare service providers (nurses, dentists, psychologists, social workers, etc.) who become suspicious and develop reasonable belief over the course of treating a child
- Child safety workers, peace officers and child welfare investigators
- A parent, guardian or stepparent
- Teachers and school staff
- All other individuals tasked with the responsibility of taking care of a minor
These individuals have to make an immediate report and they can use either mail or phone. Each child abuse or neglect report has to contain information about the name and address of the minor in question, their parents or guardians, the age of the minor, the nature of the abuse, whether there’s physical injury and whether there’s evidence of previous abuse.
Child abuse reporting isn’t required in a few situations. Responsible individuals don’t have to alert the authorities in the case of sexual conduct involving only minors aged 14 to 17 who seem to have engaged in it consensually. Whenever injuries result from typical playground activities, a report isn’t required either.
How is Child Abuse Defined?
Arizona regulations provide a broad definition of child abuse. Numerous activities will qualify as such, the most important ones being:
- Physical injury and trauma inflicted by non-accidental means
- Denial of medical assistance
- Denial of nourishment with the intent of causing death
- Impairment of bodily functions
- Emotional damage that is diagnosed either by a pediatrician or a psychologist
- Sexual abuse
Penalties for Failure to Report Child Abuse
Individuals who have the obligation to report suspicions of child abuse but who fail doing so face criminal charges in Arizona. Failure to file a report immediately will lead to Class 1 misdemeanor charges. Whenever the failure to report involves a reportable offense against the child (child sex trafficking, incest, unlawful mutilation, etc.), the person will be charged with a Class 6 felony.
A Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona comes with a maximum punishment of six months in jail. The defendant will also face fines of up to 2,500 dollars. While the Class 6 felony is the least serious felony offense in Arizona, it still comes with a one-year prison sentence or a two-year prison sentence in the case of aggravating circumstances. Contact experienced family lawyers for professional guidance.
Other Responsibilities in the Case of Child Abuse
The individuals responsible for filing a report with the respective authorities will also need to ensure the wellbeing of the child following the finding of abuse.
Ensuring the protection of a vulnerable minor until law enforcement arrives is of utmost importance. Once an officer arrives, a person could be asked to provide additional information about the signs of abuse.
Other things a person obliged of filing a child abuse report is required to do include calling the Arizona’s statewide toll-free child abuse hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 1-888-767-2445 and submitting a written report to CPS within 72 hours of filing the report with Arizona law enforcement agencies.