Mandatory Reporting Requirements in North Carolina
Q: Who has a duty to report?
A: A private person generally has no obligation to report evidence of a crime. There may be strong practical and moral reasons to report a crime, but that’s not the same as a legal duty. However, there are certain situations in which NC citizens have a legal duty to report:
Everyone has a duty to report in cases where there is suspected:
- Child abuse and/or neglect by a parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker. 1
- Abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled or elder adult by their caretaker. 2
- Physicians and Hospitals must report to law enforcement certain kinds of wounds, injuries or illnesses. 3
- School Principals must report immediately to law enforcement when he or she has personal or actual knowledge that an act has occurred on school property involving certain offenses. 4
- Photo processors or computer technicians who, within the scope of their employment, come across images of a minor (or one who reasonably appears to be a minor) engaging in sexual activity. 5
Q: What is the penalty for failing to report?
Q: What is the “Standard of Knowledge”?
A: In regards to neglected or abused children, the standard of knowledge is “any cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected or dependent”.
In regards to abused or neglected disabled/elder adults, the standard of knowledge is “any reasonable cause to believe that a disabled or elder adult is in need of protective services”.
Q: To whom should reports be made?
A: Reports should be made to the Director of the County Department of Social Services in the county in which the child or disabled adult resides or is found. Reports may be made orally or in writing.
Q: What information must be included in the report?
A: The report should include pertinent information such as: the name and address of the juvenile/disabled adult; the name and address of the juvenile/disabled adult’s care-taker; the age of the juvenile/disabled adult; the names and ages of other juveniles/disabled adults in the home; the present whereabouts of the juvenile/disabled adult; the nature and extent of any injury or condition resulting from abuse, neglect, or dependency and; any other information which the person making the report believes might be helpful. 6
Note: In regards to suspected child abuse, if the report is made orally or by telephone, the reporter must include his or her name, address, and telephone number. By remaining anonymous, a reporter obstructs the department’s ability to seek additional information and therefore forfeits his or her right to receive notification about the outcome of the investigation.
1 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-301
2 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 108A-2
3 N.C. Gen Stat. § 90-21.20 – Injuries caused by weapons (guns in every case, knives and sharp objects in suspected criminal cases), poisoning (in every case) and grave bodily harm or illness (due to suspected criminal violence).
4 N.C. Gen Stat. § 115C-288(g) – Offenses include assault, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, indecent liberties with a minor, assault involving use of a weapon, possession of a firearm or weapon in violation of the law, possession of a controlled substance in violation of the law).
5 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 66-67.4 – The name and address of the person requesting services shall be reported to the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children or to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
6 In regards to suspected child abuse, if the report is made orally or by telephone, the reporter must include his or her name, address, and telephone number. By remaining anonymous, a reporter obstructs the department’s ability to seek additional information and therefore forfeits his or her right to receive notification about the outcome of the investigation.