Who Is Required To Report Child Abuse In Louisiana?

The news out of State College, Pennsylvania is equal parts sad and disturbing. Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been arrested and charged with multiple accounts of sexually abusing at-risk children. Prosecutors allege that Sandusky, the former heir apparent to coaching legend Joe Paterno, preyed on young boys who participated in The Second Mile, the charity for at-risk youth he co-founded in 1977.

Perhaps more shocking are reports that high-ranking Penn State administrators – including athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz – knew of Sandusky’s conduct as early as 2002 but failed to take further action or report the crimes to the authorities. Curley and Schultz now face their own criminal charges: perjury, for allegedly lying to the grand jury who investigated the crimes, and failing to report the incidents to child protection authorities.

The sickening story got us thinking: who is required to report child abuse in Louisiana?

The answer is found in the Louisiana Children’s Code. If you are a “mandatory reporter,” you are required to report child abuse or neglect to the local child protection unit of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Individuals deemed to be “mandatory reporters” include (but are not limited to):

  • Health practitioners, defined broadly to include physicians, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, nursing aides, EMTs, amongst others;
  • Mental health or social service practitioners, including psychologists, counselors, and social workers;
  • Members of the clergy;
  • Teachers or child care providers;
  • Police officers or law enforcement officials;
  • “Commercial film and photographic print processors”;
  • Certain child care mediators; and
  • CASA volunteers.

Any of the above individuals who “knowingly and willfully fails” to report child abuse or neglect is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more that $500, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both. The message is clear: if you see something, say something.

We hasten to add that some individuals not listed above may be obligated to report child abuse or neglect under certain situations. If you have any questions about whether you are required to report, you should contact an attorney for advice.