REPORTING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Call 911 for emergency situations. Otherwise, contact the appropriate local and state authorities to report suspected incidents of abuse. State toll-free numbers and websites for specific agencies designated to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway webpage.
All States include sexual abuse in their definitions of child abuse. Some States refer in general terms to sexual abuse, while others specify various acts as sexual abuse. Sexual exploitation is an element of the definition of sexual abuse in most jurisdictions. Sexual exploitation includes allowing the child to engage in prostitution or in the production of child pornography. In 33 States, the definition of sexual abuse includes human trafficking, including sex trafficking or trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
Commercial sexual exploitation, including the production of child pornography, can be regarded as types of sex trafficking. The States that specifically include the term "sex trafficking" in their civil definitions of child abuse include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
This factsheet discusses laws that designate the groups of professionals that are required to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. It also addresses reporting by other persons, the responsibilities of institutions in making reports, standards for making a report, and confidentiality of the reporter's identity. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.
To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.