Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Law

Effective January 1, 2013, amendments to Oregon's child abuse reporting laws make employees of Oregon higher education institutions, including private colleges like Reed, “mandatory reporters of child abuse.” 

These amendments impose an individual obligation on you as an employee of the College to report suspected child abuse.

If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911 immediately.

Please see the FAQs below to learn more about your responsibility to report child abuse to the Department of Human Services (DHS) or law enforcement.  If you have additional questions, including whether or not to report, please call DHS’s Multnomah County office (503-731-3100).


1. Who is a mandatory reporter of child abuse?

All “public and private officials” as defined by state statute (ORS 419B.005) are mandatory reporters, some of those “public and private officials” include: 

  • School Employees (Effective January 1, 2013, employees of Oregon higher education institutions are explicitly included in the law as mandatory reporters.)
  • Paid Coaches, assistant coaches and trainers of child athletes
  • Doctors/Nurses/Dentists/Pharmacists/Chiropractors
  • Psychologists/Professional Counselors/Therapists

2.  As a mandatory reporter, do my reporting obligations under the law end when I am not working or I am not “on-the-job”?

As an employee of an Oregon higher education institution, you are designated by the law as a mandatory reporter.  Your obligations as a mandatory reporter are specific to you as an individual, not a time period, location, or role/duty.  As a mandatory reporter, your obligations continue 24/7 no matter where you are. 

3. Are there circumstances when I am not legally obligated to report suspected child abuse?

Generally, no.  In limited circumstances, psychiatrists, psychologists, clergy members, attorneys and certain guardian ad litem may not have to report confidential information that is obtained in the course and scope of providing services.  If you have additional questions about this exception to the mandatory reporting laws, please contact DHS. 

4. Who is a “child” under the law? Are Reed students included in the definition of a “child” for the purpose of complying with mandatory reporting requirements?

A “child” is defined as any “unmarried person who is under 18 years of age.”  Some Reed students, as well as visitors to campus, participants in Reed-affiliated events, etc., qualify under this definition and are covered by the mandatory reporting law.

5. What is “abuse” under the mandatory reporting law?

  • Any assault of a child and any physical injury to a child caused by other than accidental means;
  • Any mental injury to a child, which shall include only observable and substantial impairment of the child’s mental or psychological ability to function caused by cruelty to the child, with due regard to the culture of the child;
  • Rape of a child, which includes but is not limited to rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration and incest;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Sexual exploitation, including:
    • Contribution to the sexual delinquency of a minor; and
    • Allowing, permitting, encouraging or hiring a child to engage in prostitution or patronize a prostitute;      
  • Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child;
  • Threatened harm to a child, which means subject a child to a substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare;
  • Buying or selling a child; and
  • Permitting a child to enter or remain in a premise where methamphetamines are manufactured.

For additional information go to the DHS website at:

6. What about various forms of discipline, such as spanking?

The law exempts from the definition of “abuse” any “reasonable discipline” unless the discipline results in one of the conditions described in question 5 above.

7. Whom do I contact if I suspect or learn of child abuse?

You must immediately report to the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) or law enforcement if you have “reasonable cause to believe” that any child with whom you come into contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom you come into contact has abused a child.  The law requires an “oral” report, so reports are typically made by phone.  You may be asked for additional written information from the agency you contacted. 

A law enforcement agency is a local police department, county sheriff, Oregon state police, or county juvenile department.

Most DHS offices throughout the state are open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.  After hours reports should be made to local law enforcement or a local child abuse hotline.  The Multnomah County dedicated child abuse hotlines are 503-731-3100 (local) or 800-509-5439 (toll free).

You do not need to report to both DHS and local law enforcement.  A report to one agency will be communicated to the other.

8. What information do I need to report?

If possible, provide the following information:

  • Names and addresses of the child and parent;
  • Child’s age;
  • Type and extent of abuse (including information of previous abuse);
  • Any explanation given for the abuse; and
  • Any other information that will help to establish the cause of abuse or identity of the abuser.

9. Do I have to prove that abuse occurred?

No.  You are required only to make the report of suspected child abuse.  DHS and/or law enforcement will make an assessment of the situation and conduct any investigation. 

10. Will my report be confidential?

The reporter’s identity will remain confidential to the full extent allowable by laws.  If court action is initiated, the reporting person may be called as a witness or the court may order that the reporter’s name be disclosed.  Only people with firsthand knowledge of the child’s situation can provide testimony proving that abuse has occurred.

11. Can I be sued if I report?

Oregon law (ORS 419.025) provides that anyone participating in good faith in making a report of child abuse and who has reasonable grounds for making the report, will have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might occur with respect to the making or content of such report.

12. What if I don’t report?

A mandatory reporter who fails to report is subject to prosecution of a Class A criminal violation of the law, which carries a maximum penalty of $2,000, and may be subject to civil liability.


(Page last modified: December 7, 2017)