I happened to notice someone commenting that there is a legal requirement to report suspected child abuse for a non-guardian relative of a child suspected of abuse. I obviously would encourage the individual to report abuse no matter what, but I'm curious about the actual law in this regard. My understanding was that responsibility for reporting suspected crimes only belong to those who have a "duty to care", in this case the child's guardians and certain professions that are responsible for working with children.

The statement I'm wondering about was:

Child abuse law in Texas and Florida, where our organization was incorporated, requires any person to report suspected child abuse. This is also specifically true about child abuse in at least 16 other states in the US. And I followed a case in Pennsylvania where, even without such explicit laws, two men were prosecuted for concealment of a crime for failing to report child abuse, even though they did not fall into a mandatory reporter category. They ended up getting slaps on the wrists, but convicted nonetheless

Can anyone tell me if states do require anyone to report abuse? If so I'm curious how that relates to my previous understanding of responsibility to report crimes. Does that mean in general whether or not an individual must report a crime is entirely dependent on whether a specific state passes a law about a specific crime being mandatory to report?

In short I'm less interested in child abuse specifically, as I am on what it means about responsibility to report crime in general.

  • I don't know about the US specifically, but in most countries, every citizen is required to report any crime they have knowledge of — otherwise, they become an accomplice. – fNek Jan 20 '16 at 17:59
  • @fNek but what about suspicion? There is a very broad spectrum of gray in there. – phoog Jan 20 '16 at 18:04
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  • In the United States (and UK I believe) the law doesn't impose many positive duties. Ie. Unless you enter a job profession or contract requires the acceptance of these duties, you do not have to report anything. In the USA as a bystander you have no requirement to offer help, call 911 or perform any other action. – Viktor Jan 22 '16 at 20:04

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