Washington Child Abuse Laws

Child abuse is a serious crime in all 50 states, including Washington. The crime includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of minors, in addition to exploitation and neglect.

What Are The Child Abuse Laws In Washington?

Washington child abuse laws are enforced by the State Dept. of Social and Health Services. As in most other states, mandatory reporting requirements apply to peace officers and other adults with regular access to children, such as teachers and pediatricians.

Those people legally required to report child abuse or neglect are:

  • Medical practitioners;
  • Nurses;
  • Dentists;
  • Social service counselors/therapists;
  • Psychologists;
  • Medical examiners;
  • Pharmacists;
  • School personnel;
  • Child care providers;
  • Law enforcement officers;
  • Juvenile probation officers;
  • Corrections employees;
  • DSHS employees;
  • Placement and liaison specialists;
  • Responsible living skills program staff;
  • HOPE center staff;
  • State family and children's ombudsman;
  • Any volunteer in the ombudsman's office;
  • Adults residing with child suspected to have been severely abused.

How Do I Report Suspected Child Abuse?

Call the state's child abuse hotline at 1-866-END-HARM (1-866-363-4276) to report a suspected incident of child abuse or neglect.

What Question Will I Be Asked When I Call To Report Suspected Abuse?

  1. The name, address and age of the child.
  2. The name and address of the child's parent, guardian or other persons having custody of the child.
  3. The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.
  4. Any evidence of previous incidences.
  5. Any other information which may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child's abuse or neglect and the identity of the perpetrator.

The following chart lists the main provisions of Washington's child abuse laws. See Child Abuse Overview to learn more about this crime.

Code Section 26.44.010. et seq.
What Constitutes Abuse The injury, sexual abuse/exploitation or negligent treatment of a child, under circumstances which indicate that such child's health, welfare, or safety is harmed
Mandatory Reporting Required By All practitioners, coroners, law enforcement officer, school personnel, nurse, social services counselor, psychologist, pharmacist, child care providers, juvenile probation officer, health and social services department employee
Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect Reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect
To Whom Reported State Department of Social and Health Services or proper law enforcement agency
Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting Gross Misdemeanor

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington criminal defense attorney or family law attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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