Reporting Rules for 3 Types of Child Abuse & Neglect in Maryland
Not every case of child abuse or neglect is readily apparent. Sometimes there are no signs of injury or hunger or poor hygiene. Sometimes children are placed in situations where the danger to them is less visible, but still quite real. Accordingly, Maryland law provides specific reporting rules for individuals who observe or suspect less visible types of child abuse or neglect. Upon receipt of such a report, a local department of state government or an appropriate law enforcement agency will conduct an investigation.
- Children at Substantial Risk of Sexual Abuse
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-704.1, a person may file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect where there is potential for sexual abuse. This section applies if there is reason to believe that a parent, guardian, or caregiver allows a child to be in regular contact with:
- A registered sex offender who committed a sexual offense against a child; and
- That person appears to pose a substantial risk of sexual abuse against the child based upon the information available to the reporter.
Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect under Section 5-704.1 can be made orally or in writing.
- Newborns Exposed to Various Substances
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-704.2, a person may file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect where a newborn was exposed to various substances. In this context, a newborn means a child younger than 30 days old either born in or receiving care in Maryland.
As detailed in Section 5-704.2, a newborn child is considered exposed if they:
- Register a chemical test after birth indicating the presence of a controlled substance or similarly illegal drug;
- Show the effects of controlled substance withdrawal from prenatal exposure; or
- Demonstrate the effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which may occur due to the birth mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy.
Section 5-704.2 requires a healthcare provider involved in the delivery or care of an exposed newborn child to:
- Deliver an oral report to the local department as soon as possible; and
- File a written report with the local department at most 48 hours after discovery of an exposed newborn child.
- Suspected Child Victims of Sex Trafficking
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-704.3, a person may file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect where sex trafficking is suspected. In these situations, any local department receiving such a report must refer the case to an appropriate regional navigator, in accordance with Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-704.4.
The regional navigator will then appoint a qualified community–based victim services provider to help with the case. To qualify as a qualified community–based victim services provider, an organization must have:
- Expertise in delivering services directly to child victims of sex trafficking;
- Capacity to provide adequate services to child victims of sex trafficking;
- Experience working in the community where the services will be provided; and
- Ability to interface with government agencies, law enforcement, and other third parties.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance defending allegations of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence in Maryland, it can be highly constructive to contact a skilled Bel Air domestic violence attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including domestic violence and child abuse or neglect. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.