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Child Abuse Reporting Law

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16, DELAWARE CODE, CHAPTER 9 RELATING TO REPORTING OF CASES OF ABUSE OF CHILDREN

Section 1. Chapter 9, Title 16, Delaware Code, is amended by a new Chapter 9 to read as follows:

CHAPTER 9. ABUSE OF CHILDREN

901. PURPOSE

It is the purpose of this Chapter to provide for comprehensive protective services for abused and neglected children found in the State by requiring that reports of such abused and neglected children be made to the appropriate authorities in an effort to prevent further abuse or neglect and to assist those children and their parents or those persons legally responsible for them, in their own home to aid in overcoming the problems leading to abuse and neglect, thereby strengthening parental care and supervision and enhancing such children's welfare and preserving the family life whenever feasible.

902. DEFINITION OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

For purposes of this chapter the term "child abuse and neglect" means the physical injury by other than accidental means, injury resulting in a mental or emotional condition which is a result of abuse or neglect, negligent treatment, sexual abuse, maltreatment, mistreatment, nontreatment, exploitation or abandonment, of a child under the age of 18 or of an individual who appears to be mentally retarded.

903. REPORTS REQUIRED

Any physician, and any other person in the healing arts including any person licensed to render services in medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, any intern, resident, nurse, school employee, social worker, psychologist, medical examiner or any other person who knows or reasonably suspects child abuse or neglect shall make a report in accordance with 904 of this Chapter.

904. NATURE AND CONTENT OF REPORT: TO WHOM MADE

Any report required to be made under this Chapter shall be made to the Division of Child Protective Services, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. An immediate oral report shall be made by telephone or otherwise. Reports and the contents thereof including a written report, if requested, shall be made in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Division of Child Protective Services, or in accordance with the rules and regulations adopted by the Division.

905. DUTIES OF THE RECEIVING AGENCY

(a) Upon receipt of a report submitted pursuant to this Chapter, the Division of Child Protective Services shall immediately investigate and take necessary action and shall offer protective social services toward preventing further child abuse or neglect as defined in 902 of this Chapter, safeguarding and enhancing the welfare of the abused or neglected person and preserving family life whenever possible. In performing any of these duties, the Division may utilize the facilities of any State or private agency and, whenever removal of the abused or neglected person appears necessary shall file an appropriate petition seeking removal of such person from the custody of his parent, guardian or other adult with whom he is living, an authorization to place such child in a suitable facility. If the injury or abuse is so serious that criminal prosecution is indicated, the Division shall, in addition to taking such action under this section as it deems necessary, report its findings to the Department of Justice and the Family Court, and/or to the police.

(b) The Division shall establish in each county a registry of child protection for the purpose of maintaining a registry of information concerning each case of abuse or neglect required to be reported in said county by this chapter. The files shall be confidential subject to the rules and regulations adopted by the Division.

(c) The Division shall keep in the manner prescribed and on forms furnished by it such information as shall be necessary in order to maintain a statewide central registry of all reports made in the State.

906. IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY

Anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this chapter shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that otherwise exist and such immunity shall extend to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.

907. CHILD UNDER TREATMENT BY SPIRITUAL MEANS NOT NEGLECTED

No child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall for that reason alone be considered a neglected child for purposes of this chapter.

908. EVIDENCE NOT PRIVILEGED

The physician-patient privilege, husband-wife privilege or any privilege except the attorney-client privilege, provided for by professions such as social work or nursing, covered by law or a code of ethics regarding practitioner-client confidences, both as they relate to the competency of the witness and to the exclusion of evidence, shall not pertain in any civil or criminal litigation in which a person's neglect, abuse, dependency, exploitation or abandonment is in issue nor in any judicial proceeding resulting from a report submitted pursuant to this chapter.

909. PENALTY

Whoever knowingly and willfully violates this chapter shall be fined not more than $100, shall be imprisoned not more than 15 days or both.

To Report Child Abuse/Neglect in Delaware, Call Toll-free: 1-800-292-9582

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