2021 Tennessee Code
Title 37 - Juveniles
Chapter 1 - Juvenile Courts and Proceedings
Part 4 - Mandatory Child Abuse Reports
§ 37-1-403. Reporting of Brutality, Abuse, Neglect or Child Sexual Abuse — Notification to Parents of Abuse on School Grounds or Under School Supervision — Confidentiality of Records
- Any person who has knowledge of or is called upon to render aid to any child who is suffering from or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition shall report such harm immediately if the harm is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect or that, on the basis of available information, reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect.
- Any such person with knowledge of the type of harm described in this subsection (a) shall report it, by telephone or otherwise, to the:
- Judge having juvenile jurisdiction over the child;
- Department, in a manner specified by the department, either by contacting a local representative of the department or by utilizing the department's centralized intake procedure, where applicable;
- Sheriff of the county where the child resides; or
- Chief law enforcement official of the municipality where the child resides.
- If any such person knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused, the person shall report such information in accordance with § 37-1-605, relative to the sexual abuse of children, regardless of whether such person knows or believes that the child has sustained any apparent injury as a result of such abuse.
- The report shall include, to the extent known by the reporter, the name, address, telephone number and age of the child, the name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for the care of the child, and the facts requiring the report. The report may include any other pertinent information.
- If a law enforcement official or judge becomes aware of known or suspected child abuse, through personal knowledge, receipt of a report, or otherwise, such information shall be reported to the department immediately upon the receipt of such information, and, where appropriate, the child protective team shall be notified to investigate the report for the protection of the child in accordance with this part. Further criminal investigation by such official shall be appropriately conducted in coordination with the team or department to the maximum extent possible.
- A law enforcement official or judge who knows or becomes aware of a person who is convicted of a violation of § 55-10-401 and sentenced under § 55-10-402(b), because such person was at the time of the offense accompanied by a child under eighteen (18) years of age, shall report such information, as provided in subdivision (c)(1), and the department shall consider such information to be appropriate for investigation in the same manner as other reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.
- If the department receives information containing references to alleged human trafficking or child pornography which does or does not result in an investigation by the department, the department shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately upon receipt of such information.
- If the department initiates an investigation of severe child abuse, including, but not limited to, child sexual abuse, the department shall notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency immediately upon assignment of such case to a department child protective services worker.
- Both the department and law enforcement shall maintain a log of all such reports of such information received and confirmation that the information was sent to the appropriate party, pursuant to this subdivision (c)(3).
- Any person required to report or investigate cases of suspected child abuse who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child died as a result of child abuse shall report such suspicion to the appropriate medical examiner. The medical examiner shall accept the report for investigation and shall report the medical examiner's findings, in writing, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate district attorney general, and the department. Autopsy reports maintained by the medical examiner shall not be subject to the confidentiality requirements provided for in § 37-1-409.
- Reports involving known or suspected institutional child sexual abuse shall be made and received in the same manner as all other reports made pursuant to chapter 478 of the Public Acts of 1985, relative to the sexual abuse of children. Investigations of institutional child sexual abuse shall be conducted in accordance with § 37-1-606.
- Every physician or other person who makes a diagnosis of, or treats, or prescribes for any sexually transmitted disease set out in § 68-10-112, or venereal herpes and chlamydia, in children thirteen (13) years of age or younger, and every superintendent or manager of a clinic, dispensary or charitable or penal institution, in which there is a case of any of the diseases, as set out in this subsection (f), in children thirteen (13) years of age or younger shall report the case immediately, in writing on a form supplied by the department of health to that department. If the reported cases are confirmed and if sexual abuse is suspected, the department of health will report the case to the department of children's services. The department of children's services will be responsible for any necessary follow-up.
- Every physician or other person who makes an initial diagnosis of pregnancy to an unemancipated minor, and every superintendent or manager of a clinic, dispensary or charitable or penal institution in which there is a case of an unemancipated minor who is determined to be pregnant, shall provide to the minor's parent, if the parent is present, and the minor consents, any readily available written information on how to report to the department of children's services an occurrence of sex abuse that may have resulted in the minor's pregnancy, unless disclosure to the parent would violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. § 1320d et seq., or the regulations promulgated pursuant to the act.
- Failure to provide the written information shall not subject a person to the penalty provided by § 37-1-412.
- The department of children's services shall provide to the department of health the relevant written information. The department of health shall distribute copies of the written information to all licensees of the appropriate health-related boards through the boards' routinely issued newsletters. At the time of initial licensure, these boards shall also provide new licensees a copy of the relevant written information for distribution pursuant to this subsection (g).
- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any hospital, clinic, school, or other organization responsible for the care of children, from developing a specific procedure for internally tracking, reporting, or otherwise monitoring a report made by a member of the organization's staff pursuant to this section, including requiring a member of the organization's staff who makes a report to provide a copy of or notice concerning the report to the organization, so long as the procedure does not inhibit, interfere with, or otherwise affect the duty of a person to make a report as required by subsection (a). Nothing in this section shall prevent staff of a hospital or clinic from gathering sufficient information, as determined by the hospital or clinic, in order to make an appropriate medical diagnosis or to provide and document care that is medically indicated, and is needed to determine whether to report an incident as defined in this part. Those activities shall not interfere with nor serve as a substitute for any investigation by law enforcement officials or the department; provided, that, if any hospital, clinic, school or other organization responsible for the care of children develops a procedure for internally tracking, reporting or otherwise monitoring a report pursuant to this section, the identity of the person who made a report of harm pursuant to this section or § 37-1-605 shall be kept confidential.
- Any school official, personnel, employee or member of the board of education who is aware of a report or investigation of employee misconduct on the part of any employee of the school system that in any way involves known or alleged child abuse, including, but not limited to, child physical or sexual abuse or neglect, shall immediately upon knowledge of such information notify the department of children's services or anyone listed in subdivision (a)(2) of the abuse or alleged abuse.
- Notwithstanding § 37-5-107 or § 37-1-612, if a school teacher, school official, or other school personnel has knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that a child who attends the school may be a victim of child abuse or child sexual abuse sufficient to require reporting pursuant to this section, then the school teacher, school official, or other school personnel must follow the procedures outlined in § 49-6-1601.
- For purposes of this subsection (i), “school” means any public or privately operated child care agency, as defined in § 71-3-501; child care program, as defined in § 49-1-1102; preschool; nursery school; kindergarten; elementary school; or secondary school.
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