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Abuse Hotline

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does Florida law require?
Section 39.201(1)(a), F.S., requires that “any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the Abuse Hotline.” Return to Top
2. What should I do if I suspect that a school staff member is abusing a student?
All school personnel (public and private) are included in the definition of “other person responsible for the child’s welfare” located in section 39.01(47), F.S. Therefore, suspicions involving school personnel must be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline as outlined. Return to Top
3. Do I have to identify myself?
Yes. School teachers, school officials, and school personnel must identify themselves as required by section 39.201(1)(b)4., F.S.

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4. What if I don’t report?
According to section 39.205(1), F.S., any person who knowingly and willfully does not report known or suspected abuse is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor and is subject to criminal prosecution. Return to Top
5. What is “reasonable cause to suspect”?
Indicators of abuse and neglect are factors to consider when determining if a situation meets criteria for “reasonable cause to suspect.” Please refer to Section 1C of this sourcebook, Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect, which begins on page 8. Return to Top
6. How does the law define “child abuse and neglect”?
See definitions for abuse, harm, and neglect provided in Section 6 of this sourcebook. Return to Top
7. What does the law say about reporting young women who are pregnant?

According to section 39.201(2)(d), F.S., “If the report is of an instance of known or suspected child abuse involving impregnation of a child under 16 years of age by a person 21 years of age or older solely under section 827.04(3), F.S., the report shall be made immediately to the appropriate county sheriff’s office or other appropriate law enforcement agency.” However, it is appropriate to call the Hotline or law enforcement if school personnel are in doubt about where to make a report.

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8. Are teachers or other school personnel expected to “investigate” prior to making a report?
Absolutely not. Teachers and other school personnel are required by law to report known or suspected abuse or neglect. Investigation of reports is the responsibility of local law enforcement, local child protection teams, and/or the Department of Children and Families. Return to Top
9. How do I report a suspected case?
Preparing a report and options for reporting suspected or known abuse or neglect are described in detail beginning on page 31 of this sourcebook. Return to Top