2021 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 7 - Parent and Child Relationship Generally
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 19-7-5. (Effective January 1, 2022.) Reporting of Child Abuse; When Mandated or Authorized; Content of Report; to Whom Made; Immunity From Liability; Report Based Upon Privileged Communication; Penalty for Failure to Report; Spiritual Treatment for Illnesses

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-7-5 (2021)
  1. The purpose of this Code section is to provide for the protection of children. It is intended that mandatory reporting will cause the protective services of the state to be brought to bear on the situation in an effort to prevent abuses, to protect and enhance the welfare of children, and to preserve family life wherever possible. This Code section shall be liberally construed so as to carry out the purposes thereof.
  2. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. "Abandonment" means any conduct on the part of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian showing an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims. Intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims may be evidenced by:
      1. Failure, for a period of at least six months, to communicate meaningfully with a child;
      2. Failure, for a period of at least six months, to maintain regular visitation with a child;
      3. Leaving a child with another person without provision for his or her support for a period of at least six months;
      4. Failure, for a period of at least six months, to participate in any court ordered plan or program designed to reunite a child with his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian;
      5. Leaving a child without affording means of identifying such child or his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian and:
        1. The identity of such child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian cannot be ascertained despite diligent searching; and
        2. A parent, guardian, or legal custodian has not come forward to claim such child within three months following the finding of such child;
      6. Being absent from the home of his or her child for a period of time that creates a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home;
      7. Failure to respond, for a period of at least six months, to notice of child protective proceedings; or
      8. Any other conduct indicating an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims.
    2. "Abortion" shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 15-11-681.
    3. "Abused" means subjected to child abuse.
    4. "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
    5. "Child abuse" means:
      1. Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of such child by other than accidental means; provided, however, that physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child;
      2. Neglect of a child by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of such child;
      3. Emotional abuse of a child;
      4. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child;
      5. Prenatal abuse of a child by a parent;
      6. An act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to the child's physical, mental, or emotional health; or
      7. Trafficking a child for labor servitude.
    6. "Child service organization personnel" means persons employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit, or voluntary, that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children.
    7. "Clergy" means ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, or similar functionaries, by whatever name called, of a bona fide religious organization.
    8. "Emotional abuse" means acts or omissions by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of a child that cause any mental injury to such child's intellectual or psychological capacity as evidenced by an observable and significant impairment in such child's ability to function within a child's normal range of performance and behavior or that create a substantial risk of impairment.
    9. "Labor servitude" means work or service of economic or financial value which is performed or provided by another individual and is induced or obtained by coercion or deception.
    10. "Legal custodian" means:
      1. A person to whom legal custody of a child has been given by order of a court; or
      2. A public or private agency or other private organization licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care for a child to which legal custody of such child has been given by order of a court.
    11. "Neglect" means:
      1. The 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;
      2. The failure to provide a child with adequate supervision necessary for such child's well-being; or
      3. The abandonment of a child by his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
    12. "Person responsible for the care of a child" means:
      1. An adult member of a child's household;
      2. A person exercising supervision over a child for any part of the 24 hour day; or
      3. Any adult who, based on his or her relationship to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian or a member of a child's household, has access to such child.
    13. "Pregnancy resource center" means an organization or facility that:
      1. Provides pregnancy counseling or information as its primary purpose, either for a fee or as a free service;
      2. Does not provide or refer for abortions;
      3. Does not provide or refer for FDA approved contraceptive drugs or devices; and
      4. Is not licensed or certified by the state or federal government to provide medical or health care services and is not otherwise bound to follow the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-191, or other state or federal laws relating to patient confidentiality.
    14. "Prenatal abuse" means exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or the unlawful use of any controlled substance, as such term is defined in Code Section 16-13-21, which results in:
      1. Symptoms of withdrawal in a newborn or the presence of a controlled substance or a metabolite thereof in a newborn's body, blood, urine, or meconium that is not the result of medical treatment; or
      2. Medically diagnosed and harmful effects in a newborn's physical appearance or functioning.
    15. "Reproductive health care facility" means any office, clinic, or any other physical location that provides abortions, abortion counseling, abortion referrals, or gynecological care and services.
    16. "School" means any public or private pre-kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, technical school, vocational school, college, university, or institution of postsecondary education.
    17. "Sexual abuse" means a person's employing, using, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing any minor who is not such person's spouse to engage in any act which involves:
      1. Sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
      2. Bestiality;
      3. Masturbation;
      4. Lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
      5. Flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude;
      6. Condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of a person who is nude;
      7. Physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification with any person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, or buttocks or with a female's clothed or unclothed breasts;
      8. Defecation or urination for the purpose of sexual stimulation;
      9. Penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object except when done as part of a recognized medical procedure; or
      10. Any act described by subsection (c) of Code Section 16-5-46.

        Sexual abuse shall include consensual sex acts when the sex acts are between minors if any individual is less than 14 years of age; provided, however, that it shall not include consensual sex acts when the sex acts are between a minor and an adult who is not more than four years older than the minor. This provision shall not be deemed or construed to repeal any law concerning the age or capacity to consent.

    18. "Sexual exploitation" means conduct by any person who allows, permits, encourages, or requires a child to engage in:
      1. Sexual servitude, as defined in Code Section 16-5-46; or
      2. Sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual or print medium depicting such conduct, as defined in Code Section 16-12-100.
    1. The following persons having reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred shall report or cause reports of such abuse to be made as provided in this Code section:
      1. Physicians licensed to practice medicine, physician assistants, interns, or residents;
      2. Hospital or medical personnel;
      3. Dentists;
      4. Licensed psychologists and persons participating in internships to obtain licensing pursuant to Chapter 39 of Title 43;
      5. Podiatrists;
      6. Registered professional nurses or licensed practical nurses licensed pursuant to Chapter 26 of Title 43 or nurse's aides;
      7. Professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists licensed pursuant to Chapter 10A of Title 43;
      8. School teachers;
      9. School administrators;
      10. School counselors, visiting teachers, school social workers, or school psychologists certified pursuant to Chapter 2 of Title 20;
      11. Child welfare agency personnel, as such agency is defined in Code Section 49-5-12;
      12. Child-counseling personnel;
      13. Child service organization personnel;
      14. Law enforcement personnel; or
      15. Reproductive health care facility or pregnancy resource center personnel and volunteers.
    2. If a person is required to report child abuse pursuant to this subsection because such person attends to a child pursuant to such person's duties as an employee of or volunteer at a hospital, school, social agency, or similar facility, such person shall notify the person in charge of such hospital, school, agency, or facility, or the designated delegate thereof, and the person so notified shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with this Code section. An employee or volunteer who makes a report to the person designated pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to have fully complied with this subsection. Under no circumstances shall any person in charge of such hospital, school, agency, or facility, or the designated delegate thereof, to whom such notification has been made exercise any control, restraint, or modification or make any other change to the information provided by the reporter, although each of the aforementioned persons may be consulted prior to the making of a report and may provide any additional, relevant, and necessary information when making the report.
    3. When a person identified in paragraph (1) of this subsection has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse has occurred involving a person who attends to a child pursuant to such person's duties as an employee of or volunteer at a hospital, school, social agency, or similar facility, the person who received such information shall notify the person in charge of such hospital, school, agency, or facility, or the designated delegate thereof, and the person so notified shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with this Code section. An employee or volunteer who makes a report to the person designated pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to have fully complied with this subsection. Under no circumstances shall any person in charge of such hospital, school, agency, or facility, or the designated delegate thereof, to whom such notification has been made exercise any control, restraint, or modification or make any other change to the information provided by the reporter, although each of the aforementioned persons may be consulted prior to the making of a report and may provide any additional, relevant, and necessary information when making the report.
  3. Any other person, other than one specified in subsection (c) of this Code section, who has reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred may report or cause reports to be made as provided in this Code section.
    1. As used in the subsection, the term:
      1. "Active duty" means full-time duty status.
      2. "Armed forces of the United States" or "military" means the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, United States National Guard, Georgia Army National Guard, or Georgia Air National Guard, or a reserve component thereof.
      3. "Family advocacy program" means, for the particular branch, the program established by the military for the prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention, or treatment of spouse or child abuse.
      4. "Military law enforcement" means, for the particular branch, the police corps, division, branch, agency, or authority of the military responsible for law enforcement or force protection.
    2. With respect to reporting required by subsection (c) of this Code section, an oral report by telephone or other oral communication or a written report by electronic submission or facsimile shall be made immediately, but in no case later than 24 hours from the time there is reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred. When a report is being made by electronic submission or facsimile to the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, it shall be done in the manner specified by the division. Oral reports shall be followed by a later report in writing, if requested, to a child welfare agency providing protective services, as designated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, or, in the absence of such agency, to an appropriate police authority or district attorney. Such report shall be provided to military law enforcement, if applicable. If a report of child abuse is made to the child welfare agency or independently discovered by the agency, and the agency has reasonable cause to believe such report is true or the report contains any allegation or evidence of child abuse, then the agency shall immediately notify the appropriate police authority or district attorney and notify military law enforcement, if applicable. Such reports shall contain the names and addresses of the child and the child's parents or caretakers, if known, the child's age, the nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries, and any other information that the reporting person believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the perpetrator. Photographs of the child's injuries to be used as documentation in support of allegations by hospital employees or volunteers, physicians, law enforcement personnel, school officials, or employees or volunteers of legally mandated public or private child protective agencies may be taken without the permission of the child's parent or guardian. Such photographs shall be made available as soon as possible to the chief welfare agency providing protective services, the appropriate police authority, and military law enforcement.
    3. For each child who is the subject of child abuse allegations, the child welfare agency as provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall make efforts as soon as practicable to determine whether a parent or guardian of such child is on active duty in the armed forces of the United States. If such agency determines that a parent or guardian of such child is on active duty in the armed forces of the United States, such agency shall notify the applicable military installation's family advocacy program of the allegation of child abuse that relates to the parent or guardian of such child.
  4. Any person or persons, partnership, firm, corporation, association, hospital, or other entity participating in the making of a report or causing a report to be made, and individuals who otherwise provide information or assistance, including, but not limited to, medical evaluations or consultations, in connection with a report made to a child welfare agency providing protective services, an appropriate police authority, or military law enforcement pursuant to this Code section or any other law or participating in any judicial proceeding or any other proceeding resulting therefrom shall in so doing be immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed, provided that such participation pursuant to this Code section or any other law is made in good faith. Any person making a report, whether required by this Code section or not, shall be immune from liability as provided in this subsection.
  5. Suspected child abuse which is required to be reported by any person pursuant to this Code section shall be reported notwithstanding that the reasonable cause to believe such abuse has occurred or is occurring is based in whole or in part upon any communication to that person which is otherwise made privileged or confidential by law; provided, however, that a member of the clergy shall not be required to report child abuse reported solely within the context of confession or other similar communication required to be kept confidential under church doctrine or practice. When a clergy member receives information about child abuse from any other source, the clergy member shall comply with the reporting requirements of this Code section, even though the clergy member may have also received a report of child abuse from the confession of the perpetrator.
  6. Any person or official required by subsection (c) of this Code section to report a suspected case of child abuse who knowingly and willfully fails to do so shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  7. A report of child abuse or information relating thereto and contained in such report, when provided to a law enforcement agency or district attorney pursuant to subsection (e) of this Code section or pursuant to Code Section 49-5-41, shall not be subject to public inspection under Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50 even though such report or information is contained in or part of closed records compiled for law enforcement or prosecution purposes unless:
    1. There is a criminal or civil court proceeding which has been initiated based in whole or in part upon the facts regarding abuse which are alleged in the child abuse reports and the person or entity seeking to inspect such records provides clear and convincing evidence of such proceeding; or
    2. The superior court in the county in which is located the office of the law enforcement agency or district attorney which compiled the records containing such reports, after application for inspection and a hearing on the issue, shall permit inspection of such records by or release of information from such records to individuals or entities who are engaged in legitimate research for educational, scientific, or public purposes and who comply with the provisions of this paragraph.When those records are located in more than one county, the application may be made to the superior court of any one of such counties.A copy of any application authorized by this paragraph shall be served on the office of the law enforcement agency or district attorney which compiled the records containing such reports.In cases where the location of the records is unknown to the applicant, the application may be made to the Superior Court of Fulton County.The superior court to which an application is made shall not grant the application unless:
      1. The application includes a description of the proposed research project, including a specific statement of the information required, the purpose for which the project requires that information, and a methodology to assure the information is not arbitrarily sought;
      2. The applicant carries the burden of showing the legitimacy of the research project; and
      3. Names and addresses of individuals, other than officials, employees, or agents of agencies receiving or investigating a report of abuse which is the subject of a report, shall be deleted from any information released pursuant to this subsection unless the court determines that having the names and addresses open for review is essential to the research and the child, through his or her representative, gives permission to release the information.
  8. The treatment of a child in good faith 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 not in and of itself be considered child abuse.

(Code 1933, § 74-111, enacted by Ga. L. 1965, p. 588, § 1; Ga. L. 1968, p. 1196, § 1; Ga. L. 1973, p. 309, § 1; Ga. L. 1974, p. 438, § 1; Ga. L. 1977, p. 242, §§ 1-3; Ga. L. 1978, p. 2059, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1980, p. 921, § 1; Ga. L. 1981, p. 1034, §§ 1-3; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1624, § 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 1761, § 1; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1695, §§ 1, 1.1; Ga. L. 1994, p. 97, § 19; Ga. L. 1999, p. 81, § 19; Ga. L. 2006, p. 485, § 1/SB 442; Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 2-2/HB 228; Ga. L. 2009, p. 733, § 1/SB 69; Ga. L. 2012, p. 899, § 5-1/HB 1176; Ga. L. 2013, p. 141, § 19/HB 79; Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 4-23/HB 242; Ga. L. 2013, p. 524, § 2-1/HB 78; Ga. L. 2015, p. 906, § 1/HB 268; Ga. L. 2016, p. 773, § 2/HB 905; Ga. L. 2017, p. 343, § 1/HB 86; Ga. L. 2017, p. 774, § 19/HB 323; Ga. L. 2019, p. 824, § 2/HB 64; Ga. L. 2019, p. 893, § 9/SB 225; Ga. L. 2021, p. 134, § 12/SB 28.)

Cross references.

- Freedom of religion, U.S. Const., amend. 1.

Religious opinions and freedom of religion, Ga. Const., Art. I, Sec. I, Para. IV.

Criminal penalty for cruelty to children, § 16-5-70.

Battery, assault, stalking, and other offenses involving family members, § 19-13-1 et seq.

Toll-free number for reporting child abuse or neglect, § 20-2-324.4.

Restriction of access to records concerning reports of child abuse and neglect, § 49-5-40 et seq.

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1988, "willfully" was substituted for "wilfully" near the end of subsection (h) (formerly subsection (e)).

Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1990, "provided" was substituted for "providing" in the first sentence of subsection (f).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2012, p. 899, § 9-1(a)/HB 1176, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall become effective on July 1, 2012, and shall apply to offenses which occur on or after that date. Any offense occurring before July 1, 2012, shall be governed by the statute in effect at the time of such offense and shall be considered a prior conviction for the purpose of imposing a sentence that provides for a different penalty for a subsequent conviction for the same type of offense, of whatever degree or level, pursuant to this Act."

Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 5-1/HB 242, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall become effective on January 1, 2014, and shall apply to all offenses which occur and juvenile proceedings commenced on and after such date. Any offense occurring before January 1, 2014, shall be governed by the statute in effect at the time of such offense and shall be considered a prior adjudication for the purpose of imposing a disposition that provides for a different penalty for subsequent adjudications, of whatever class, pursuant to this Act. The enactment of this Act shall not affect any prosecutions for acts occurring before January 1, 2014, and shall not act as an abatement of any such prosecutions."

Ga. L. 2019, p. 824, § 1/HB 64, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Protecting Military Children Act.'"

Administrative Rules and Regulations.

- Student support, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Georgia Department of Education, Chapter 160-4-8.

Day care centers, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Resources, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-2.

Family day care homes, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Resources, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-3.

Rules and regulations for child caring institutions, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Resources, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-5.

Rules and regulations for children's transition care centers, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Resources, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-6.

Rules and regulations for outdoor child caring programs, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Resources, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-7.

Rules and regulations governing the child protective services information system, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Rules of Department of Human Services, Family and Children Services, Subject 290-2-30.

Law reviews.

- For article recommending more consistency in age requirements of laws pertaining to the welfare of minors, see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 189 (1969). For article citing developments in Georgia juvenile court practice and procedure from mid-1980 through mid-1981, see 33 Mercer L. Rev. 167 (1981). For annual survey of criminal law and procedure, see 41 Mercer L. Rev. 115 (1989). For article on the 2012 amendment of this Code section, see 29 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 290 (2012). For article, "See No Evil, Speak No Evil: Georgia Supreme Court Narrows Requirements for Mandatory Reporters in May v. State," see 66 Mercer L. Rev. 837 (2015). For annual survey on criminal law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 73 (2017). For note on 1990 amendment of this Code section, see 7 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 268 (1990). For note on 1993 amendment of this Code section, see 10 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 131 (1993). For note, "Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws in Georgia: Strengthening Protection for Georgia's Children," see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 643 (2015). For comment, "Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws in Georgia: Strengthening Protection for Georgia's Children," see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 643 (2015).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Immunity not applicable to an act of molestation.

- Immunity provided by O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 is applicable only to such civil or criminal liability as might otherwise result from the act of reporting suspected child molestation or abuse, not to such criminal liability as may arise from the commission of the molestation or abuse itself. Austin v. State, 179 Ga. App. 235, 345 S.E.2d 688 (1986).

"Psychologist" means licensed psychologist.

- Term "psychologist", as contained in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, includes only licensed psychologists. Gladson v. State, 258 Ga. 885, 376 S.E.2d 362 (1989).

Counselor, who held a doctoral degree in human development from an accredited university but was not a licensed psychologist, could not be held criminally liable for failure to report alleged child abuse. Gladson v. State, 258 Ga. 885, 376 S.E.2d 362 (1989).

Limitation on mandatory obligation to report child abuse.

- Statutory obligation to report the abuse of a child is limited to the abuse of a child to whom the mandatory reporter attends pursuant to the reporter's duties in the profession, occupation, employment, or volunteer work by which the reporter is identified as a mandatory reporter. May v. State, 295 Ga. 388, 761 S.E.2d 38 (2014).

Limitation on teacher's mandatory obligation to report child abuse.

- Because, by the time the defendant learned of the sexual abuse, the child was no longer the defendant's student, was no longer enrolled in the school at which the defendant taught, and was no longer enrolled at any school in the same school system, the defendant was not attending to the child pursuant to the defendant's duties as a school teacher, and had no legal obligation to report the sexual abuse. May v. State, 295 Ga. 388, 761 S.E.2d 38 (2014).

No private cause of action.

- O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 does not expressly create a civil cause of action for damages in favor of the victim or anyone else. Cechman v. Travis, 202 Ga. App. 255, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1991), cert. denied, 202 Ga. App. 905, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1992); Vance v. T.R.C., 229 Ga. App. 608, 494 S.E.2d 714 (1997).

There is nothing within the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 which purports to create a private cause of action in tort in favor of an alleged victim of child abuse against the physician. Cechman v. Travis, 202 Ga. App. 255, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1991), cert. denied, 202 Ga. App. 905, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1992); Vance v. T.R.C., 229 Ga. App. 608, 494 S.E.2d 714 (1997).

No private cause of action lies for a failure to report child abuse in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5. Odem v. Pace Academy, 235 Ga. App. 648, 510 S.E.2d 326 (1998).

Psychologist was not subject to malpractice liability for failure to report suspected child sexual abuse pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5; prior case law established that O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 did not create a private cause of action for the failure to report child abuse. McGarrah v. Posig, 280 Ga. App. 808, 635 S.E.2d 219 (2006).

Person alleging child abuse held immune from liability for slander.

- As a tenant admitted at a deposition that the tenant's son was sometimes in their home, which the tenant knew was contaminated with toxic mold, without a mask, the landlord had reasonable cause to allege to authorities that the tenant was guilty of child abuse, and was thus entitled to immunity from the tenant's slander claim under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(f). Brown v. Rader, 299 Ga. App. 606, 683 S.E.2d 16 (2009).

No immunity for false reports of child abuse.

- Trial court did not err in granting a protective order under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-90(a)(1) against a foster parent who had placed a family under extensive surveillance through a combination of Internet searches and third party observations of the family's home and contacted law enforcement, causing groundless investigations. The foster parent was not immune from liability under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(f) because the foster parent had not received any information that a child in the home had been subjected to abuse. Owen v. Watts, 307 Ga. App. 493, 705 S.E.2d 852 (2010).

Plaintiff, staff member at defendant's school, was not within class of protected persons contemplated by O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, and the plaintiff's claim for damages under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-6 could not survive summary judgment. Odem v. Pace Academy, 235 Ga. App. 648, 510 S.E.2d 326 (1998).

Immunity from liability of person participating in report.

- Grant of immunity from liability, under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, extended to a psychologist to whom a child welfare agency referred a child for evaluation as part of an investigation of suspected child abuse and the evidence did not establish bad faith on the part of the psychologist in making a report to the agency that the child had been sexually abused. Michaels v. Gordon, 211 Ga. App. 470, 439 S.E.2d 722 (1993).

Doctor had to report suspected abuse.

- When children's allegations were sufficient to cause a reasonable person to suspect that child abuse occurred, a doctor had to report the suspected abuse and had immunity from suit for that report. O'Heron v. Blaney, 276 Ga. 871, 583 S.E.2d 834 (2003).

Supervisory decisions were discretionary acts.

- As a student's personal injury damages claims against three school employees were based on the employees negligent failure to supervise the student when the student was with a non-party, and that such failure allegedly led to the student being molested by the third-party, the supervisory decisions made were discretionary acts requiring personal deliberation and judgment; hence, any reliance on O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 did not provide a basis for civil liability against the employees for a negligent breach of a ministerial duty, and the student's claims were barred by the doctrine of official immunity as a matter of law. Reece v. Turner, 284 Ga. App. 282, 643 S.E.2d 814 (2007).

ALJ's finding of child sex abuse act supported by evidence.

- Preponderance of the evidence supported an ALJ's finding that an offender committed an act of child sex abuse on the 14-year-old victim, who testified that the offender humped the victim like a dog twice although the victim tried to get away from the offender; the term "hump like a dog" was within common understanding; the ALJ could have found that the offender performed an act of apparent sexual stimulation under O.C.G.A. § 19-7- 5(b)(10)(G), for purposes of listing the offender on the child abuser registry. Ga. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Steiner, 303 Ga. 890, 815 S.E.2d 883 (2018).

DFCS investigator's determination of child abuse registry listing did not violate separation of powers.

- Under the former Child Protective Services Information System, O.C.G.A. § 49-5-180 et seq. (now repealed), an alleged child abuser had the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge, who makes the final agency decision after hearing evidence and argument from the alleged abuser and from DFCS. The role of the abuse investigator in the determination of whether an incident should be in the child abuse registry did not violate the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Ga. Dep't of Human Servs. v. Steiner, 303 Ga. 890, 815 S.E.2d 883 (2018).

Hospital's report of the results of a drug test administered to a child was not made in bad faith, and summary judgment for the hospital based on the good faith immunity provision of O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(f) was warranted. Baldwin County Hosp. Auth. v. Trawick, 233 Ga. App. 539, 504 S.E.2d 708 (1998).

No liability for failure to discover abuse.

- O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 does not require that notice be given by those physicians who should have had reasonable cause to suspect child abuse, and it does not penalize those physicians who fail to discover and report suspected instances of child abuse. Cechman v. Travis, 202 Ga. App. 255, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1991), cert. denied, 202 Ga. App. 905, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1992).

As a general rule, when the injury is not due to the fault of the person to be charged, the fact that a person sees another who is injured does not, of itself, impose on that person any legal obligation to afford relief or assistance, but the person may have a strong moral and humanitarian obligation to do so. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 may change this common-law rule to the extent of imposing upon the physician, who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused, a legal duty to the state to report that suspicion. That section does not, however, change that common-law rule by imposing upon the physician, who merely failed to discover and report suspected child abuse, a legal liability to the child for future acts of child abuse. Cechman v. Travis, 202 Ga. App. 255, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1991), cert. denied, 202 Ga. App. 905, 414 S.E.2d 282 (1992).

Denial of immunity not a final judgment.

- Denial of the plea in bar, asserting immunity from prosecution pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, does not constitute a final judgment, nor is the order otherwise directly appealable. Austin v. State, 179 Ga. App. 235, 345 S.E.2d 688 (1986).

Refusal to give jury instruction proper.

- Trial court did not err by refusing to charge the jury regarding O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 because the defendant cited no authority in support of the defendant's proposition that the trial court erred in refusing to give the instruction; the individual whom the defendant alleged failed to report the abuse as required by the statute was not a witness at trial, and the issue was irrelevant to the jury's determination of the defendant's guilt. Hamrick v. State, 304 Ga. App. 378, 696 S.E.2d 403 (2010).

Cited in Lipsey v. State, 170 Ga. App. 770, 318 S.E.2d 184 (1984); Perguson v. State, 221 Ga. App. 212, 470 S.E.2d 909 (1996); Moss v. State, 244 Ga. App. 295, 535 S.E.2d 292 (2000); Hubert v. State, 297 Ga. App. 71, 676 S.E.2d 436 (2009).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

"Cause to believe" is equivalent to "cause to suspect."

- For purposes of Georgia's child abuse reporting statute, providing for protection of children whose health and welfare are adversely affected and threatened, "cause to believe" is equivalent to "cause to suspect." 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 76-131.

"Deprived" child includes one who is abused, neglected, or exploited.

- Although the statute did not explicitly mention "deprived" children as defined in Juvenile Court Code, the definition was certainly inclusive of a child who is abused, neglected, or exploited. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 76-131.

Phrase "participating in any judicial proceeding" clearly extended to filing of petition as well as mere testimony in proceeding initiated by others. 1967 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 67-70.

"Caretakers."

- Personnel of public and private schools are "caretakers" as defined in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 87-29.

Scope of authority to investigate.

- Department of Human Resources, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, has authority and responsibility only for investigating reports of suspected abuse when it is alleged or reasonably suspected that the abuse of the child was by a parent or caretaker. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 87-29.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Trial Report: Third Party Suit Against Therapists for Implanting False Memory of Childhood Molestation, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 313.

When Clergy Fail Their Flock: Litigating the Clergy Sexual Abuse Case, 91 Am. Jur. Trials 151.

ALR.

- Failure to provide medical attention for child as criminal neglect, 12 A.L.R.2d 1047.

Right, in child custody proceedings, to cross-examine investigating officer whose report is used by court in its decision, 59 A.L.R.3d 1337.

Admissibility of expert medical testimony on battered child syndrome, 98 A.L.R.3d 306.

Validity and construction of penal statute prohibiting child abuse, 1 A.L.R.4th 38.

Admissibility at criminal prosecution of expert testimony on battering parent syndrome, 43 A.L.R.4th 1203.

Validity, construction, and application of statute limiting physician-patient privilege in judicial proceedings relating to child abuse or neglect, 44 A.L.R.4th 649.

Validity, construction, and application of state statute requiring doctor or other person to report child abuse, 73 A.L.R.4th 782.

Denial or restriction of visitation rights to parent charged with sexually abusing child, 1 A.L.R.5th 776.

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