KY: Shaken Baby SyndromePage 6 of 13

4. Reporting Child Maltreatment in Kentucky

What’s interesting about child abuse is that, especially with really young babies and young children, at first, before they have a fatal or near fatal event, there really were warning signs or somebody noticed something or somebody had a concern but they really didn’t speak up, or they didn’t want to get involved, or they didn’t want to cause problems. But when we look back, because looking back often teaches us how to predict or how to do a better job going forward, we often see that there were things that were missed.

Mary Pierce, MD
NICHD, 2013

Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

[From Kentucky Rev. Stat. §620.030 and §620.050]

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is dependent, neglected, or abused shall immediately report. All persons are required to report, including, but not limited to:

  • Physicians, osteopathic physicians, nurses, coroners, medical examiners, residents, interns, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, or health professionals
  • Teachers, school personnel, or child caring personnel
  • Social workers or mental health professionals
  • Peace officers

Neither the husband-wife nor any professional-client/patient privilege, except the attorney-client and clergy-penitent privilege, shall be a ground for refusing to report. The Reporters are not specifically required by statute to provide their name in the report.

The identity of the reporter shall not be disclosed except:

  • To law enforcement officials, the agency investigating the report, or to a multidisciplinary team
  • Under court order, after a court has found reason to believe the reporter knowingly made a false report

Making a Report

Reports of child maltreatment, including pediatric abusive head trauma, can be made by calling the Child Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-877-KYSAFE1 (597-2331). Before reporting, explain to the child’s caregiver(s) that:

  • The child sustained a serious brain injury not explained by the history.
  • You are a mandated reporter who is legally required to make a child abuse report.
  • You will contact social services and law enforcement agencies, which will investigate.

Avoid sharing details of your clinical findings or suggesting possible explanations for the injuries. (Such discussions could affect later forensic interviews and child abuse investigations.) It may be helpful to have a social worker present.

Immunity for Reporters

[From Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. § 620.050(1)]

Anyone acting upon reasonable cause in making a report or acting in good faith shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such participant shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report or action.

Failure to Report or False Reporting

[Rev. Stat. § 620.990(1) and Rev. Stat. § 620.050(1)]

Any person intentionally violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Any person who knowingly makes a false report and does so with malice shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Who Makes a Report

In a 2001 Children’s Bureau review of reporters in the United States, professionals made nearly 60% of reports of alleged child abuse and neglect (Children’s Bureau, 2011). A “professional” is a person who has contact with the alleged child maltreatment victim as part of their job.

Nonprofessionals—friends, neighbors, and relatives—submitted just under 20% of reports. Unclassified, anonymous, and unknown sources submitted about 25% of child abuse and neglect reports (Children’s Bureau, 2011). The three largest report sources were teachers, legal and law enforcement personnel, and social services personnel.

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