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Tennessee Child Abuse Laws

How to Report Child Abuse In Tennessee

Tennessee's Department of Children's Services maintains a secure website for reporting suspicions of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. You can also contact the Central Intake Child Abuse hotline at 1-877-54ABUSE (1-877-542-2873).

Tennessee Child Abuse Laws: Overview

All states treat child abuse as a serious crime, often punishable by prison time. Although subjecting an innocent child to such trauma is indefensible, sadly, child abuse is quite common. Child abuse in Tennessee includes any physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment of a minor, and also may include neglect or abandonment. Intentionally inflicting injury on a child is charged as a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee, but the charge is a Class D felony if the child is under eight years old.

The main provisions of Tennessee statutes regarding child abuse are summarized in the following chart. See FindLaw's Child Abuse and Domestic Violence sections to learn more.

Code Section 37-1-401, et seq.
What Constitutes Abuse Any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition which is of a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect; also includes sexual abuse
Mandatory Reporting Required By Physician, chiropractor, hospital personnel, any other health or mental health professional, spiritual healing practitioner, school teacher/personnel, judge, social worker, day care center worker, foster care worker, law enforcement officer, neighbor, relative, friend, or any other person
Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect Having knowledge or being called on to render aid to any child suffering from or sustaining a wound or injury which is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate or which on the basis of available information appears to indicate have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect
To Whom Reported Department of Children's Services
Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting Class A misdemeanor: false reporting of child sexual abuse: Class E felony

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Tennessee child abuse attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What is a Mandatory Reporter?

If you are an adult with close contact with a child, you may be required to report any clear evidence of abuse. This is called a "mandatory reporting" requirement and applies to physicians, clergy, teachers, day care workers, social workers, and others with regular access to a child. Failure to report abuse is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

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