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Reporting Child Abuse - Mississippi

Mississippi

Mississippi law requires certain professionals, including attorneys, physicians, nurses, psychologists, ministers, public or private school employees or any other persons having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, to make an oral report of abuse immediately by telephone and thereafter by written report to the Department of Human Services. All reports to the Department of Human Services must contain the names and addresses of the child and his parents or other persons responsible for his care, if known, the child's age, the nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries and any other information that might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury and the identity of the perpetrator. Anyone who willfully violates this provision is liable for a fine or up to one year in jail.

In 2012, Mississippi added a new mandatory reporting statute for sexual crimes against minors. The statute defines “mandatory reporter” as: “any of the following individuals performing their occupational duties: health care practitioner, clergy member, teaching or child care provider, law enforcement officer, or commercial image processor” and requires mandatory reporters to “make a report if it would be reasonable for the mandatory reporter to suspect that a sex crime against a minor has occurred.” Reports must be made to the law enforcement agency where the sex crime occurred. Failure to report is a misdemeanor offense. It also defines “sex crime” and each of the mandatory reporters in more detail.

Under the Mississippi statute “Abused child” means a child whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, whether legally obligated to do so or not, has caused or allowed to be caused, upon the child, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, non-accidental physical injury or other maltreatment. However, physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse under this section.

On April 23, 2013, H.B. 151 was signed into law. This law provides a comprehensive definition for “health care practitioner” to mean any individual who provides health care services, including a physician, surgeon, physical therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, medical resident, medical intern, hospital staff member, licensed nurse, midwife and emergency medical technician or paramedic. The bill also requires law enforcement personnel to submit certain mandatory reports in cases of suspected child abuse. Further, the law includes provisions regarding the collection of samples from babies born to mothers under the age of 16 under certain circumstances. Finally, the law provides immunity protection for health care practitioners who report suspected abuse.
A summary of the bill can be found here: http://www.legislature.ms.gov/Documents/13Summary.pdf

Links to the specific sections of the official Mississippi Code are not available. To access the entire Mississippi Code online, follow:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/mscode/

Search for 43-21-353 or 97-5-51 or 43-21-105(m) for the law enacted in 2012.

For more information about reporting child abuse in Mississippi, how to spot abuse, and additional resources for mandatory reporters, see the Mississippi Department of Social Services Website, Children’s section and the following links:

http://www.mdhs.state.ms.us/fcs_prot.html

Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-222-8000 | (601) 432-4570