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Child Abuse: Mandatory Reporting Laws in Illinois

Posted on in Criminal Defense

child abuse charges in Illinois, DuPage County sex crimes defense lawyerIn most instances, it is not a crime to fail to report a crime. However, the Illinois government finds that some crimes are so severe, that it has made it a crime to fail to report such crimes. Failing to report suspected child abuse is one such crime that the government has mandated “mandatory reporting” for certain individuals that share a unique relationship with children, particularly teachers.

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act is the codified law that requires that school teachers, among other groups of individuals, report child abuse when they have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child is being abused. The notable aspect of this law is that is has been sparsely used by prosecutors since its inception in 1975. One recent case has brought the law to the forefront, however, and serves as a reminder that some of us have obligations to file reports if we have suspicions of child abuse. This particular case actually involves allegations of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student, but extends to all teachers that have authority over children.

Mandatory Reporting Laws in Illinois

Failure to report child abuse can carry punishments ranging from misdemeanors to Class 3 felonies, and the punishments increase when more than one failure is documented or when false reports are filed.

According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, there are 24 categories of occupations that require mandatory reporting under Illinois law, which include:

  • Psychiatrists and surgeons;
  • Medical residents;
  • Medical interns;
  • Dentists;
  • Dental hygienists;
  • Medical examiners;
  • Pathologists;
  • Osteopaths;
  • Coroners;
  • Christian Science practitioners;
  • Chiropractors;
  • Podiatrists;
  • Registered and licensed practical nurses;
  • Emergency medical technicians;
  • Hospital administrators and other essential personnel pertaining to the treatment of patients;
  • Teachers;
  • School personnel;
  • Educational advocates;
  • Directors and staff of day cares/nursery skills;
  • Child care workers;
  • Truancy officers;
  • Probation officers;
  • Animal control officers; and
  • Field personnel of various government agencies and departments.

This is not an exhaustive list, but merely highlights some of the occupations that have heightened reporting standards as compared to various other occupations. Members of the clergy have also been placed on the mandatory reporting list as of 2002 in light of alleged abuse by Catholic priests against children.

The idea of mandatory reporting stems from the idea that these professions are often in positions to best assess the possibility of abuse in a child’s household. According to the Illinois law, resources are made available for teachers and other mandatory reporters to make toll free calls to child protective services to encourage the use of such outlets. Historically, the standard for “reasonable cause” to believe child abuse is being committed is quite low, and the law is designed to encourage educators to come forward with an suspected abuse.

Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys

Failing to report suspected child abuse is a crime. The fact that this particular law has not been enforced until recently does not undermine the severity of such crimes. Regardless of whether you have been accused of failing to report child abuse, or if you have been a perpetrator of sexual, criminal, or spousal assault or domestic violence, you do have legal rights. Our DuPage County criminal defense attorneys will work tirelessly to defend you and help you receive the most favorable outcome possible given the circumstances. With convenient offices in Oak Brook and Naperville, Illinois, Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. is always available to advise you of your legal rights. Contact us today.

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