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Abuse of Minors

Under Virginia law, effective July 1, 2012, every William & Mary employee (including faculty) is required to report suspected abuse or neglect of a minor – any individual under the age of 18.  The reporting requirement arises when the employee, in his or her professional or official capacity with the university, has reason to suspect abuse or neglect.  (For abuse or neglect in the past - rather than happening currently - see below.)

How and When Do I Report?  

The law requires reports to be made as soon as possible, but no longer than 24 hours after having reason to suspect the abuse.

Reports must be made to the Department of Social Services toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline (in Virginia:  800-552-7096) or to the local department of social services.  The Department of Social Services provides an online list of local social services agencies; the abuse or neglect can be reported to the department of the county or city where the minor resides or where the abuse or neglect is believed to have occurred. 

You (the person reporting) must disclose all information that is the basis for the suspicion of abuse or neglect; if requested, you must make available any information, records, or reports that document the basis of the report, unless disclosure violates FERPA, a federal law that protects student records.  (Information about FERPA is available in the university’s Student Records Privacy Policy.)

Please be aware that you may have an additional, internal reporting obligation -- please review the mandatory reporting website.

When Do I NOT Need to Report to Social Services?  

There are three situations:

1.  If you -- the person suspecting the abuse or neglect -- know (have actual knowledge) that the same matter has already been reported, you do not need to report.  

2.  In limited circumstances, attorneys and certain religious officials are exempt from the reporting requirement.  See § 63.2-1509(A)(18) of the Virginia Code.

3.  If the abuse or neglect occurred in the past AND the victim is now age 18 or older, Child Protective Services will not accept the report.  You may, but are not required, to report the matter to the appropriate law enforcement office.  If the abuse of neglect occurred in the past but the victim is still a minor (under 18), you need to report it as described above.  

Are There Protections for Reporting, or Consequences for Failing to Report?  

Good-faith reporters will be immune from any civil or criminal liability resulting from such report.

Anyone who is required by the law to report but fails to do so in a timely manner will be fined up to $500 for the first failure, and not less than $1,000 for any subsequent failure. Anyone who intentionally fails to report rape, sodomy, or object sexual penetration will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Where Can I Learn More?  

More information, including guidance on what constitutes and how to identify child abuse, is available in the Guide for Mandated Reporters (pdf) published by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Social Services.