Report Child Abuse—It’s the Law


The disturbing revelations in the last few months about child abuse in churches, schools and other trusted institutions have underscored just how important it is for anyone who is aware or suspicious of child abuse of any kind to report those concerns to the proper authorities immediately. Under D.C. law, any adult who knows of, or has a reasonable cause to believe that, a child under 16 is a victim of sexual abuse must immediately report it to the police (911) or the District’s Child and Family Services Agency (202-671-SAFE.) Failure to report could result in a $300 fine.

Do you work with children? If yes, you likely are a “mandated reporter.”

For certain people who regularly work with children -- including teachers, school officials, health care workers, and daycare workers -- D.C. law requires you to be a “mandated reporter” for suspected child abuse or neglect of any kind and for certain other injuries to children under the age of 18 (see link below).

This means they have a legal obligation to report any kind of suspected mistreatment of children to law enforcement and social services immediately and without delay. If “mandated reporters” don’t report, they can be prosecuted by our office. Penalties include a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 180 days, or both.

How do I report this information to authorities?

The central reporting line in the District of Columbia is 202-671-SAFE (202-671-7233). If you believe a child is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911.

Learn more about the legal reporting requirements for all residents and for those who work in professions that make them mandated reporters at:

You can also take an online tutorial at