All states prohibit the abuse and neglect of a child. Serious punishments exist for offenders. Child service agencies also investigate reports of abuse and can remove children from unsafe or unhealthy environments. This combination of criminalization and protective services forms the basis of state child abuse laws.
One major hurdle to stopping child abuse is the difficulty of uncovering it. Accordingly, all states have enacted mandatory reporting requirements for certain professions. These laws mostly apply to people who have regular contact with children or who are most likely to discover abuse or neglect – such as teachers, doctors, social workers, and mental health professionals. Here’s a summary of Vermont’s child abuse laws with a focus on reporting requirements.
Child Abuse Laws in Vermont
Vermont law requires doctors, teachers, health care professionals, school officials, day care workers, camp counselors, and law enforcement officers to report suspected cases of child abuse. This includes suspected physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Members of the clergy are also required to report suspected cases of abuse, but there’s an exception for information gained through religious practices (like confession). Legal privileges that can prevent disclosure do not apply when it comes to suspected cases of child abuse either.
Vermont provides some protections to people reporting abuse. Good faith reporters are immune from any civil liability or criminal liability that might arise (unless the reporter is the one suspected of abuse). Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against reporting employees. And while reports are mostly anonymous, that anonymity can disappear should matters reach the courtroom.
|Code Sections||Tit. 13, § 4911, et. seq.|
|What Constitutes Abuse||When a person responsible for a child harms or places in substantial risk of harm the physical health, psychological growth, and development or welfare of a child. This includes acts (abuse) and omissions (neglect). It also covers sexual abuse, abandonment, and emotional mistreatment.|
|Mandatory Reporting Required By||Physicians, chiropractors, nurses, hospital administrators, medical examiners, dentists, psychologists, health care providers, teachers, school officials, day care workers, social workers, mental health professionals, probation officers, camp counselors, camp administrators, police officers, and clergy members. Other people may report when there's reasonable cause to suspect child abuse.|
|Basis for Reporting Abuse or Neglect||Reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected.|
|Reports Submitted to||Vermont Department for Children and Families.|
|Penalty for Failing to Report or Making a False Report||Fine of up to $500. Failing to report with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect is punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.|
Related Resources on Child Abuse Laws
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