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Wisconsin Child Abuse Laws

Child abuse laws are designed to protect children from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Wisconsin’s laws require certain third parties and professionals with access to children (such as teachers and pediatricians) to report any knowledge or suspicion of abuse to authorities. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families coordinates statewide efforts to curb child abuse.

Child Abuse Statutes

Child abuse laws may be different from state to state. Wisconsin’s child abuse statutes are highlighted in the following table.

Code Section

48.981, 48.02

What Constitutes Abuse

Physical injury inflicted on child other than by accidental means, sexual abuse/exploitation, emotional damage, (harm to child's psychological or intellectual functioning which is exhibited by anxiety, depression, or other outward behavior) or neglect (failure to provide necessaries of life); on unborn child, habitual lack of self control by expectant mother in use of alcohol and controlled drugs

Mandatory Reporting Required By

Physician, coroner, nurse, dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other medical or mental health professional, social worker, marriage or family therapist, counselor, public assistance worker, school teacher/administrator/counselor, mediator, child care or day care center worker, physical or occupational therapists, EMT, speech-language pathologists, police or law enforcement officer, attorney, member of treatment staff or alcohol/drug abuse counselor

Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect

Reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been threatened with abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect will occur

To Whom Reported

The county department (or licensed child welfare agency under contract with the county department) or sheriff or police department

Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting

Fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail

Child abuse laws attempt to balance the state’s interest in protecting of children from serious harm with a parent’s interest in raising their children as they see fit. Many people don’t realize just how common child abuse is in the United States: there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse every year, involving almost 6 million children. Four or five children are killed by child abuse or neglect each day. If you suspect a child is the victim of child abuse, you can contact state child abuse resources. You can also visit FindLaw’s Where to Get Help for Child Abuse section for additional information.

Wisconsin Child Abuse Laws Related Resources:

The effects of child abuse can be devastating. If you think a child is being abused, it is best to report child abuse cases to the authorities as soon as possible. If you would like legal assistance concerning a possible or existing child abuse case, you can contact a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw’s child abuse section for more articles and resources.

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