Who Must Report

All of Us

In Alaska there are people who are legally required to report (see definition of mandatory reporters in next section). However, even if you are not one of those mandatory reporters, you can and should report child abuse and neglect. As you will learn in this training, the impacts of child abuse and neglect can be serious and lifelong. When Alaskans take the time to recognize and report abuse and neglect they are making a significant difference in a child’s life and in contributing to the health of our communities. The safety of children is everyone’s responsibility.

Mandatory Reporting

While it is everyone’s responsibility to report child abuse and neglect, there are many in Alaska who are required to report by law. These mandatory reporters are defined in state and federal statutes.

State law (A.S. 47.17.020) requires that the following people report child maltreatment:

  • Practitioners of the healing arts, including chiropractors, mental health counselors, social workers, dentists, dental hygienists, health aides, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, optometrists, osteopaths, naturopaths, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, physicians, physician assistants, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychological associates, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, hearing aid dealers, marital and family therapists, religious healing practitioners, acupuncturists, and surgeons
  • Administrative officers of institutions, including public and private hospitals or other facilities for medical diagnosis, treatment or care
  • Paid employees of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs, and crisis intervention and prevention programs
  • Paid employees of an organization that provides counseling or treatment to individuals seeking to control their use of drugs or alcohol
  • School teachers and school administrative staff members (public and private schools)
  • Athletic coaches of both public and private schools
  • Peace officers and officers of the state Department of Corrections
  • Child care providers, including foster parents, day care providers and paid staff
  • Members of child fatality review teams, and multidisciplinary child protection teams
  • Volunteers who interact with children in a public or private school for more than four hours a week

Additional Requirements Relating to Those Working With Alaska Native and American Indian Children

In addition to those under state law, federal law (25 U.S.C. 3202, 18 U.S.C. 1169) requires that Tribes and Tribal organizations that receive federal funding and individuals who provide services to children in Tribal communities include some additional categories of mandatory reporters:

  • physician, surgeon, dentist, podiatrist, chiropractor, nurse, dental hygienist, optometrist, medical examiner, emergency medical technician, paramedic, or health care provider,
  • teacher, school counselor, instructional aide, teacher's aide, teacher's assistant, or bus driver employed by any tribal, Federal, public or private school,
  • administrative officer, supervisor of child welfare and attendance, or truancy officer of any tribal, Federal, public or private school,
  • child day care worker, Head Start teacher, public assistance worker, worker in a group home or residential or day care facility, or social worker,
  • psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychological assistant,
  • licensed or unlicensed marriage, family, or child counselor,
  • person employed in the mental health profession, or
  • law enforcement officer, probation officer, worker in a juvenile rehabilitation or detention facility, or person employed in a public agency who is responsible for enforcing statutes and judicial orders;

In addition, under federal law anyone who supervises a mandatory reporter is also considered a mandatory reporter. The federal law regarding child abuse reporting can be accessed at this link 18 U.S.C. 1169 “title “Federal Mandatory Reporter Statute”

Federal law states generally that individuals who have a legal or other responsibility for an Indian child's welfare* through an Indian Tribe or organization, Tribal consortium, or on Tribal lands, including village corporations, lands held by incorporated Native groups, or regional corporations, and reservations, are mandated reporters. Non-Tribal community members who provide services to Native children should also check with the local Tribal Council to see if they have established additional laws relating to mandatory reporting.

*Some Tribes have interpreted this to mean that adults “with authority or responsibility for an Indian child’s welfare” includes Tribal leaders, religious leaders and other adults that children would likely turn to, were responsible for their welfare and safety. Tribes may establish Tribal law that is more inclusive than these minimum standards under federal law.

Reporting Concerns in Tribal Communities

In addition to state law, for Tribes and Tribal organizations that receive federal funding and individuals who provide services to children in Tribal communities, federal law provides that you must report situations in which actions are going to be taken that would be expected to result in abuse of a child. In other words, federal law requires that you report situations where you believe abuse is likely to occur, not just situations where you believe abuse has occurred (See 25 U.S.C. 3202 and 18 U.S.C. 1169).

Screenshot of Vimeo video
Video: Reporting Concerns in Tribal Communities

When Am I Required to Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect?

State law (A.S. 47.17.020) requires that persons who are mandatory reporters who, in the performance of their occupational duties have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of child abuse or neglect, shall immediately report the harm. A.S. 47.17.290 defines "reasonable cause to suspect" as "based on all the facts and circumstances known to the person, that would lead a reasonable person to believe that something might be the case." It is not your responsibility to determine if the information you receive is accurate or whether the child is a reliable source. It does not matter how long ago the act happened, where it happened, or whether or not you believe it happened.

Mandated reporters must report suspected abuse or neglect immediately, which means as soon as reasonably possible and no later than within 24 hours.

State law (A.S. 47.17.068) and federal law (18 U.S.C. 1169) provide for criminal penalties for failing to comply with the obligation to report suspected abuse or neglect. State law (A.S. 47.17.050) and federal law (18 U.S.C. 1169) also provide that a person who complies with their obligations and makes a report in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability.

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