Georgia Mandated Reporter Law

September 21, 2016

This survey discusses only the mandated reporter statute in Georgia. If your organization is governed by a state licensing agency, such as education or child care, then that agency likely has its own set of reporting requirements. Be sure to consult those regulations if they apply to you.

This survey lists only broad categories, and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice about your specific situation, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.

WHO Must Report?
Georgia has a specific list of people who must report, including “child service organization personnel.” That definition includes employees and volunteers with any organization that provides “care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children.”

  • Child Care Centers: These centers are included in the definition above.
  • Camps: Camps would be included in the definition above.
  • Mentoring Organizations: Most mentoring organizations will fit in the definition above.
  • Schools: The statute specifies that school administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers and psychologists are mandated reporters.
  • Church Programs: The statute does not specifically mention church personnel, but most church programs would fit within the definition of “child service organization personnel.” There is a specific exception for clergy who learn about abuse solely during “confession or other similar communication required to be kept confidential under church doctrine or practice.”

WHAT Must You Report?
Georgia requires the reporting of “suspected child abuse.”

  • Abandonment: A parent or guarding is guilty of abandonment when he or she “willfully deserts a child or willfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements” for continuing care.
  • Abuse: The Georgia law requires the reporting of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and endangering a child. The latter term has a specific definition that covers several of the categories below.
    • Physical Abuse: You must report physical injury caused “by other than accidental means.” There is an exception for corporal punishment that does not cause physical injury. “Endangering a child” also includes causing a child “cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.”
    • Lack of Supervision: Georgia does not have any specific statutes, but a child left home alone or in a car arguably is neglected or endangered.
    • Domestic Violence: “Endangering a child” specifically includes allowing a child to witness a felony, battery, or family violence battery. It also includes allowing children to be present during the manufacture of methamphetamine. 
    • Mental Abuse: There is no specific provision about mental abuse, but “endangering a child” includes causing “excessive . . . mental pain.”
    • Sexual Abuse: The statute requires the reporting of sexual abuse and includes a long and exhaustive list of specific acts.
    • Teen Sexual Activity: The age of consent in Georgia is 16 years old, but there is an exception for consensual acts between a minor who is at least 14 years old and someone not more than four years older than the minor. 
    • Sexual Exploitation: Professionals must report anyone who allows a child to participate in sexual conduct or “lewd exhibition of the genitals” in film or photographs.  
    • Sexting: Georgia has two specific laws that prohibit minors from sending sexually explicit images to each other, but the mandated reporter statute does not list either of them as being grounds for a report. Nevertheless, best practices would be to report any such communication involving adults or any form of cyberbullying.  
  • Neglect: The statute does not define neglect, but the standard in custody proceedings is “failure to provide proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals.”

WHEN Must You Report?
Georgia requires a report no later than 24 hours “from the time there is reasonable cause to believe that suspected abuse has occurred.” That standard is lower than the old “reasonable cause” standard. Now, any time you even suspect abuse, you must report it.

WHERE Must You Report?
The statute requires a report to the Division of Family and Children Services. That agency has a statewide hotline at 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453). 

The statute also allows a mandated report to make a report to a supervisor. The supervisor cannot change anything in the report, but may add additional information.

WHY Must You Report?
Knowingly and willfully failing to report suspected abuse is a misdemeanor.

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