Child Abuse Reporting Laws for South Carolina

State and Statute: South Carolina, Code §§ 63-7-310 et seq.

What Is Reportable “Abuse”: Physical, sexual, or mental abuse or neglect by a child’s “parent, guardian or other person responsible for his welfare” (includes an employee of a child day care facility), or any act that would constitute child abuse if committed by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare. [310(A)] Any “act or omission [that] was committed by a person other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.” [63-7-20 and 63-7-310(B)]]

Mandatory Reporters: Includes a “member of the clergy” and any school teacher, counselor, principal, assistant principal, social or public assistance worker, or childcare worker in a childcare center or foster care facility “when in such person’s professional capacity he has received information that gives him reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected.” [63-7-310(A)]

How and Where to Report: “(O)rally by telephone or otherwise to the county department of social services or to a law enforcement agency in the county where the child resides or is found.” [63-7-310(E)]]. For acts or omissions committed by a person other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, then to the appropriate law enforcement agency. [63-7-310(B)]

Timeline to Report: No reference.

Clergy Privilege: “The privileged quality of communication between husband and wife and any professional person and his patient or client, except that between attorney and client or clergy member, including Christian Science practitioner or religious healer, and penitent, is abrogated and does not constitute grounds for failure to report or the exclusion of evidence in a civil protective proceeding resulting from a report pursuant to this article. However, a clergy member, including Christian Science practitioner or religious healer, must report in accordance with this subarticle except when information is received from the alleged perpetrator of the abuse and neglect during a communication that is protected by the clergy and penitent privilege as provided for in section 19-11-90.” [63-7-420]

Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500, not more than six months in prison, or both. [63-7-410]

Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? No statute recognizes civil liability. Consult with legal counsel to ensure no recent court decisions in South Carolina have recognized civil liability.

Immunity for Inaccurate Report: “A person required or permitted to report … acting in good faith, is immune from civil and criminal liability …” [63-7-390] If a “person has made a report of suspected child abuse or neglect maliciously or in bad faith or … [has been] found guilty of making a false report,” then the “department may bring a civil action to recover the costs of the department’s investigation and proceedings associated with the investigation, including attorney’s fees. The department also is entitled to recover costs and attorney’s fees incurred in the civil action authorized by this section.” [63-7-420(A)] … Also, the person “who was subject of the false report has a civil cause of action against the person who made the false report and is entitled to recover from the person who made the false report such relief as may be appropriate, including: actual damages; (2) punitive damages; and (3) a reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.” [63-7-430(A) and 63-7-430(B)]

Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: Reporter’s identity must be kept confidential by agency or department receiving the report and must not be disclosed except for provisions in 63-7-1990. [63-7-330] Department must not disclose reporter’s identity except as authorized by statute; statutorily authorized disclosure of confidential reports must protect reporter’s identity and regulatory records containing information from reports must not contain reporter’s identity. [63-7-1990]

Additional Information for South Carolina:

All information provided here was most recently verified in March of 2023.

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