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Child Abuse Reporting Laws for Ohio

Last Reviewed: June 4, 2021

State and Statute: Ohio, Code §§ 2151.01 et seq.

What Is Reportable "Abuse": Physical, mental, or sexual abuse. [2151.031]

Mandatory Reporters: "Any person who is … (a) licensed school psychologist; independent marriage and family therapist … administrator or employee of a child day-care center; administrator or employee of a residential camp, child day camp … school teacher; school employee; person other than a cleric rendering spiritual treatment through prayer in accordance with the tenets of a well-recognized religion …" [2151.421(A)(1)(b)]

"No cleric and no person, other than a volunteer, designated by any church, religious society, or faith acting as a leader, official, or delegate on behalf of the church, religious society, or faith who is acting in an official or professional capacity, who knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, that a child under eighteen years of age or a mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, or physically impaired child under twenty-one years of age has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child, and who knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, that another cleric or another person, other than a volunteer, designated by a church, religious society, or faith acting as a leader, official, or delegate on behalf of the church, religious society, or faith caused, or poses the threat of causing, the wound, injury, disability, or condition that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect shall fail to immediately report that knowledge or reasonable cause to believe to the entity or persons specified in this division." [2151.421(A)(4)(a)]

How and Where to Report: Except as provided in section 5120.173 of the Revised Code, the person making the report shall make it to the public children services agency or a peace officer in the county in which the child resides or in which the abuse or neglect is occurring or has occurred. In the circumstances described in section 5120.173 of the Revised Code, the person making the report shall make it to the entity specified in that section. [2151.421(A)(4)(a)]

Timeline to Report: Immediately. [2151.421(A)(4)(a)]

Clergy Privilege: "Except as provided in division (A)(4)(c) of this section, a cleric is not required to make a report pursuant to division (A)(4)(a) of this section concerning any communication the cleric receives from a penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship, if, in accordance with division (C) of section 2317.02 of the Revised Code, the cleric could not testify with respect to that communication in a civil or criminal proceeding." [2151.421(A)(4)(b)]

"The penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship described in division (A)(4)(b) of this section is deemed to have waived any testimonial privilege under division (C) of section 2317.02 of the Revised Code with respect to any communication the cleric receives from the penitent in that cleric-penitent relationship, and the cleric shall make a report pursuant to division (A)(4)(a) of this section with respect to that communication, if all of the following apply:

(i) The penitent, at the time of the communication, is a child under eighteen years of age or is a person under twenty-one years of age with a developmental disability or physical impairment.
(ii) The cleric knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, as a result of the communication or any observations made during that communication, the penitent has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the penitent.
(iii) The abuse or neglect does not arise out of the penitent's attempt to have an abortion performed upon a child under eighteen years of age or upon a person under twenty-one years of age with a developmental disability or physical impairment without the notification of her parents, guardian, or custodian in accordance with section 2151.85 of the Revised Code." [2151.421(A)(4)(c)]

"Divisions (A)(4)(a) and (c) of this section do not apply in a cleric-penitent relationship when the disclosure of any communication the cleric receives from the penitent is in violation of the sacred trust." [2151.421(A)(4)(d)]

"As used in divisions (A)(1) and (4) of this section, "cleric" and "sacred trust" have the same meanings as in section 2317.02 of the Revised Code." [2151.421(A)(4)(e)]

Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: First-degree misdemeanor if the person who fails to report knew of the abuse or neglect, knew the alleged perpetrator was a cleric or another person, other than a volunteer, designated by a church, religious society, or faith acting as a leader, official, or delegate on behalf of the church, religious society, or faith, and belongs to the same church, religious society, or faith as the alleged perpetrator. Otherwise, fourth-degree misdemeanor. [2151.99]

Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? "Whoever violates … this section is liable for compensatory and exemplary damages to the child who would have been the subject of the report that was not made. A person who brings a civil action or proceeding pursuant to this division against a person who is alleged to have violated division (A)(1) of this section may use in the action or proceeding reports of other incidents of known or suspected abuse or neglect, provided that any information in a report that would identify the child who is the subject of the report or the maker of the report, if the maker is not the defendant or an agent or employee of the defendant, has been redacted." [2151.421(N)]

Immunity for Inaccurate Report: "No person shall knowingly make or cause another person to make a false report." First-degree misdemeanor for person found guilty of such. [2921.14]

Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: All reports are confidential. Reporter's identity may not be released for use as evidence in any civil action or proceeding brought against the reporter. However, report may be admissible for certain other civil or criminal proceedings. [2151.421(I)(1)]

Additional Information for Ohio:

All information provided here was most recently verified in June of 2021.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • November 30, 2017
  • Last Reviewed: June 4, 2021

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