Child Abuse Reporting

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have an appointment with a therapist. I have been treated for depression for many years but I have been concerned about something that I have never talked about and had not thought was an issue before. I want to talk about it to help me to decide if it is relevant to my mental health issues but have become concerned about mandatory reporting required by mental health professionals. If an adult reports abuse that happened 20 years ago, is reporting to other sources mandatory? What if the abuse 20 years ago was by a child against a child? There is not any danger of harm to myself or others. I want to talk with someone but it is definitely not worth ruining my life by exposing my past to my friends and family.

A. To the best of my knowledge abuse that occurred 20 years ago would not be reported to a child welfare agency. Typically if a therapist or a mandated reporter is made aware of a situation in which a person is currently being abused or in the very recent past was abused a report is mandatory. A situation in which the individuals who were abused or committed the abuse are now adults is not something that is typically reported to child welfare agencies. It’s difficult to know for certain whether your situation could be reported because you did not detail the abuse and state laws may vary. I would suggest that if this continues to concern you please call your local child welfare agency and ask whether there is a statute of limitations regarding abuse reporting. You can call anonymously and they should be able to answer this question. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Child Abuse Reporting. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/30/child-abuse-reporting/