Reporting Child Abuse - 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 the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the child’s 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.
Mississippi has a 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. If a Child Protective Investigation does not result in an out-of-home placement, a Child Protective Investigator must provide information to the parent or guardians about community programs that provide respite care, voluntary guardianship or other support services for families in crisis.
Links to the specific sections of the official Mississippi Code are not available. To access the entire Mississippi Code online, follow:
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.
Child Abuse Hotline: