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Rhode Island Child Abuse Laws

Note: If you or a loved one are the victim of child abuse or any kind of domestic violence, contact the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families at 1 (800) RI-CHILD (24 hours a day) or your local police department.

Child abuse is defined as an act (or the failure to act, as in neglect) that puts a child's welfare and health in serious jeopardy, or which creates such a risk. State criminal codes treat child abuse as a serious crime and often take children into custody who are determined to be in unsafe homes. Child abuse includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Offenders typically are family members (parents, step parents, uncles, etc.), but may also include teachers, coaches, counselors, and others in close or regular contact with a child. State "mandatory reporter" laws require parents and caregivers to report any credible suspicions of child abuse to the authorities.

Rhode Island Child Abuse Laws at a Glance

Rhode Island requires "any person with reasonable cause" to report signs of child abuse, in accordance with the state's mandatory reporting law. This does not mean that mandatory reporters who are unaware of child abuse are on the hook for reporting it, just that they report any clear signs of abuse.

Additional details about child abuse laws in Rhode Island, including a list of mandatory reporters, can be found in the following chart. See FindLaw's Child Abuse section to learn more.

Code Section 40-11-1, et seq.
What Constitutes Abuse Child whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm including excessive corporal punishment, sexual abuse/exploitation, neglect, or abandonment
Mandatory Reporting Required By Any person with reasonable cause
Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect Reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or been the victim of sexual abuse
To Whom Reported Department of Children, Youth and Families (Statewide toll-free 24-hour/7-day-a-week hotline: 1-800-RI-CHILD)
Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting Misdemeanor and up to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 1 year for failure to report; misdemeanor and up to $1000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 1 year for false report

Note: State laws are subject to change any time through the decisions of higher courts, the enactment of newly signed legislation, and other means. You should contact a Rhode Island family law attorney or criminal defense attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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