State and Statute: Georgia, Code §§ 19-7-5 et seq.
What Is Reportable “Abuse”: Physical, mental, or sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or neglect, by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or caretaker. [19-7-5]
Mandatory Reporters: Includes professional counselors, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, school teachers and administrators, and child service organization personnel. [19-7-5(c)]
How and Where to Report: Oral report or written report by electronic transmission or facsimile to a child welfare agency designated by the Department of Human Services, or to an appropriate police authority or district attorney in the absence of such agency. [19-7-5(e)(2)]
Timeline to Report: Immediately, but by no later than within 24 hours. [19-7-5(e)(2)]
Clergy Privilege: “Suspected child abuse…shall be reported notwithstanding that the reasonable cause to believe such abuse has occurred or is occurring is based in whole or in part upon any communication to that person which is otherwise made privileged or confidential by law; provided, however, that a member of the clergy shall not be required to report child abuse reported solely within the context of confession or other similar communication required to be kept confidential under church doctrine or practice. When a clergy member receives information about child abuse from any other source, the clergy member shall comply with the reporting requirements of this Code section, even though the clergy member may have also received a report of child abuse from the confession of the perpetrator.” [19-7-5(g)]
Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: Misdemeanor. [19-7-5(h)]
Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? No statute recognizes civil liability. Consult with legal counsel to ensure no recent court decisions in Georgia have recognized civil liability.
Immunity for Inaccurate Report: “Any person or persons … corporation, association … or other entity participating in the making of a report or causing a report to be made … shall in so doing be immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed, provided that such participation pursuant to this Code section or any other law is made in good faith. Any person making a report, whether required by this Code section or not, shall be immune from liability as provided in this subsection.” [19-7-5(f)]
Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: Reports of review committee and panel are public records, but are released only after expunging information about mandatory reporter. [19-5-6] Statutory access to confidential records only permitted to specific persons and entities identified by statute [49-5-41 and 49-5-41.1] who may have reasonable access. [49-5-40]
Additional Information for Georgia
- Phone information (toll-free): 1-855-422-4453
- Online resources: https://dfcs.georgia.gov/child-abuse-neglect
All information provided here was most recently verified in March of 2023.