State and Statute: Florida, Stats. §§ 39.201 et seq.
What Is Reportable “Abuse”: Physical, sexual, mental abuse, or neglect, by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. Physical, sexual, or mental abuse by any adult. [39.201] and [39.01]
Mandatory Reporters: Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused. “Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is the victim of childhood sexual abuse or the victim of a known or suspected juvenile sexual offender … shall report such knowledge or suspicion.” [39.20(1)(a)2(c)]
How and Where to Report: To the Department of Children and Family Services’ toll-free statewide 24-hour telephone hotline (1-800-962-2873) or via fax, web-based chat, or web-based report (https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/Child/ChildForm.aspx). [39.201(1)]
Timeline to Report: Immediately. [39.201(1)]
Clergy Privilege: “The privileged quality of communication…except that between attorney and client or the [clergy-penitent] privilege, as such communication relates both to the competency of the witness and to the exclusion of confidential communication involving the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator in any situation involving known or suspected child abuse…and shall not constitute grounds for failure to report…or failure to give evidence in any judicial proceeding relating to child abuse.” [39.204]
Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: Third-degree felony. [39.205(1)]
Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? No statute recognizes civil liability. Consult with legal counsel to ensure no recent court decisions in Florida have recognized civil liability.
Immunity for Inaccurate Report: “Any person … or institution participating in good faith in any act authorized or required by this chapter, or reporting in good faith any instance of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect … shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of such action.” [39.203(1)(a)]
Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: Reporter’s identity held confidential and exempt from release to any person, other than those specified in statute, unless reporter provides written consent. [39.202(5)]
Additional Information for Florida:
- 24-hour, toll-free hotline: 1-800-962-2873*
- Online reporting: https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/Child/ChildForm.aspx *
All information provided here was most recently verified in March of 2023.