It's The Law

A lot of folks including myself were surprised with the story of the Lenoir City teacher who was charged with failing to report child abuse. Seemed a harsh punishment. But the law is the law. Tennessee law is very clear on the matter.

TCA 37-1-605 states Anyone "who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused" has a legal responsibility to support such abuse.

Further more TCA 37-1-403 states "Any person who has knowledge of or is called upon to render aid to any child who is suffering from or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition shall report such harm immediately if the harm is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect or that, on the basis of available information, reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect. (2)  Any such person with knowledge of the type of harm described in this subsection (a) shall report it, by telephone or otherwise, to the:" proper authorities. 

TCA 37-1-615. Violations Penalties.

(a)  Any person required to report known or suspected child sexual abuse who knowingly and willfully fails to do so, or who knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so, commits a Class A misdemeanor.

TCA 37-1-412. Violation of duty to report Power of juvenile court Penalty.

 (a)  Any person who knowingly fails to make a report required by 37-1-403 commits a Class A misdemeanor

As you can see, the law is very serious about the reporting of child abuse as it should be. The case of the teacher's failure to report can be a valuable lesson for all of us. When it comes to child abuse, we should always err on the side of caution for the child's sake.

For more information on the laws pertaining to child abuse or to report suspected abuse you can visit the Tennessee web site below.

Statewide Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Reporting System  

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3/9/09