Information for Mandatory Reporters
Children who spend time in a Meth influenced environment face short- and long-term affects. In South Dakota, if you are a mandatory reporter, alerting authorities to a child exposed to Meth use or manufacturing isn’t just a good idea - - it’s the law.
Child Protection Services Link– State of South Dakota website.
Professionals who are “mandatory reporters” of suspected child neglect or abuse need to be aware of HB 1258, which took effect on July 1, 2005. This law expands the definition of an abused or neglected child to include exposing children to an environment being used for the manufacturing, use or distribution of Meth or any unlawfully manufactured controlled drug or substance. Such environments place children at great risk for abuse and neglect. A study in California indicated that 92% of child protection cases were drug related. In South Dakota, Child Protection Services (CPS) has started to identify cases with alleged Meth involvement. During the first six months of fiscal year 2005, CPS assigned 145 reports alleging Meth involvement for further assessment. This bill seeks to remove any and all doubt that knowingly exposing children to drug-oriented environments is within the definition of abuse and neglect.
Who is a mandatory reporter?
A mandatory reporter is an individual or agency that is required by state law to report any instance where he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the age of 18 has been abused or neglected. Mandatory reporters must report the instance to the state’s attorney of the county in which the child resides or is present, the Department of Social Services (DSS) or law enforcement officers. State law provides that the following individuals or agencies are mandated to report to the appropriate authority instances where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the age of 18 has been abused or neglected:
- Dentist, optometrist or podiatrist
- Doctor of osteopathy
- Mental health professional or counselor
- Religious healing practitioner
- Social worker
- Hospital intern or resident
- Parole or court services officer
- Law enforcement officer
- Teacher, school counselor, school official or nurse
- Licensed or registered child welfare provider
- Employee or volunteer of a domestic abuse shelter
- Chemical dependency counselor
- Any safety-sensitive position as defined in SDCL 23-3-64(2), which includes any custody staff employed by any agency responsible for the rehabilitation or treatment of any adjudicated adult or juvenile.
State law also requires that any person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has died as a result of child abuse or neglect shall report that information to the medical examiner or coroner in addition to reporting the information to the state’s attorney, DSS or law enforcement. Any person required to report an abused or neglected child or who is required to report a child who has died as a result of child abuse and neglect but who knowingly and intentionally fails to do so is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.