Report And To Whom:
A report of child abuse should be made when a person has “reasonable cause to” believe that a child under the age of 18 has been abused by a parent or caretaker. “Reasonable cause” means a suspicion founded upon circumstances sufficiently strong to warrant a reasonable person to believe that something is true.
A report of suspected child abuse is a request for an investigation. It is not an accusation and a reporter does not have to be absolutely certain of their suspicion. The Department of Family and Children Services has the responsibility for evaluating the report and determining whether an investigation is warranted. The department is also responsible for conducting the investigation and taking appropriate action to protect the child.
An oral report must be made as soon as possible by telephone or otherwise. The report is made to the Department of Family and Children Services, Child Protective Services Section. If Child Protective Services is not available the report should be made to the appropriate police authority or the district attorney.
All reports of child abuse are forwarded by the agency to the jurisdictional police authority.
1. Content of the report:
At a minimum, the report should contain the names and addresses of the child and the child’s parents or caretakers, if known, the child’s age, the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries, and any other information that the reporting person believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the perpetrator.
2. Failure to report:
In Georgia, any person who is required by law to report and who knowingly willfully fails to report shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
The State grants immunity for any civil or criminal liability for the making of a report based on the requirement that the report is made in good faith.
[source: Child Abuse Reporting Law, Georgia Code Section 19-7-5, Department of Family and Children Services]
Who Must Report:
In Georgia any person may report a case of suspected child abuse. By State Law, the following persons must report abuse:
- physicians licensed to practice
- hospital or medical personnel
- interns or residents
- licensed psychologists or persons in internship to be licensed
- registered professional nurses
- licensed practical nurses
- professional counselors/therapists
- child counseling personnel
- law enforcement
- marriage and family therapists
- school administrators
- school teachers
- visiting teachers
- school guidance counselors
- school social workers
- school psychologists
- child welfare personnel
- child service organization personnel
- social workers
If you know a child has been or is being sexually abused, you must report it to the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or your local police department immediately so that the child can stop being hurt and start being helped. Your acknowledgement of the abuse and your willingness to do something about it will be a very important part of the healing process.
To report abuse, please dial 911 to reach your local police department or call the DFCS report line in Fulton County 404-699-4399 or in DeKalb County 404-370-5066 or 404-370-5061.
To find contact information for other Georgia Counties, please go to the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services website for a listing of local report lines throughout the state.
To report abuse anywhere in the United States, please go to the ChildHelp USA website to find listing of contact information and report hotlines throughout the country. Or you may call 1-800-4-A-Child to reach the ChildHelp USA national abuse report hotline.