Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline FAQ
What is the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline?
The Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline accepts all reports of suspected child abuse and neglect for the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Who is a “Mandated” reporter of child abuse and neglect?
Everyone in Tennessee is a mandated reporter. Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-403(i) (1) requires all persons to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. “Any person who has knowledge of or is called upon to render aid to any child who is suffering from or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition shall report such harm immediately if the harm is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality abuse, or neglect or that, on basis of available information, reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect.”
Failure to report
Failure to report abuse is a violation of the law and a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of up to three months imprisonment, a fine or both. Those who report and “act in good faith” are immune from any civil or criminal charges, which may result. The reporter has the right to remain confidential and anonymous.
Is my information confidential? Do I have to give my name?
Tennessee laws protect persons who report abuse or neglect in good faith. Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-410 provides immunity from civil and criminal liability. Reporters do have the right to remain anonymous.
What information is important when I make a report? What questions will I be asked?
- Child(ren) names, ages, address, phone numbers, race, and school/daycare information
- Parent(s), Legal Guardian(s), or caretaker(s) information
- Other household members information
- Nature of the harm or specific incident(s) that precipitated the report
- Specific allegation(s), date(s) and descriptions(s) of the injuries or dangers
- Identities of alleged perpetrator(s) and their relationship(s) to the victim
- Witnesses to the incident(s) and how to reach those witnesses
- Details of any physical evidence available
- Perpetrator's current access to the child
- Present condition of the child (alone, in need of medical attention, etc.)
- The location of the child and directions to that location
- Any statements from the child
- Parent's or perpetrator's explanation of the alleged child victim's condition or the incident
- Parent's current emotional, physical or mental state, especially feelings about the child and reactions to the report
- How the reporter came to know the information and the reporter's thoughts about the likelihood of further harm to the child
What if I don't know the answer to all of the questions I'm being asked?
You do not have to be able to answer all the questions. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you should report the information you know.
What is child abuse and neglect?
Physical Abuse - Non-accidental physical trauma or injury inflicted by a parent or caretaker on a child. It also includes a parent's or a caretaker's failure to protect a child from another person who perpetrated physical abuse on a child. In its most severe form, physical abuse is likely to cause great bodily harm or death.
Neglect - Failure to provide for a child's physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety. This may include, but is not limited to abandonment, lack of supervision, lack of adequate nutrition that places the child below the normal growth curve, lack of shelter, lack of medical or dental that results in health-threatening conditions, and the inability to meet basic clothing needs of a child. In its most severe form, physical neglect may result in great bodily harm or death.
Sexual Abuse - Includes penetration or external touching of a child's intimate parts, oral sex with a child, indecent exposure or any other sexual act performed in a child's presence for sexual gratification, sexual use of a child for prostitution, and the manufacturing of child pornography. Child sexual abuse is also the willful failure of the parent or the child's caretaker to make a reasonable effort to stop child sexual abuse by another person.
Psychological Harm - A repeated pattern of caregiver behavior or extreme incident(s) that convey to children that they are worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value in meeting another's needs and may include both abusive acts against a child and failure to act, or neglectful behavior when age-appropriate action is required for a child's health development. It can occur as part of a one-time incident but is usually chronic.
Will I be notified of what happened to my report?
The reporter can elect to receive an email notification that contains a link to the Child Abuse Reporting and Tracking system. This system allows the reporter to follow the status of the referral throughout the life of the case. The tracking system gives the reporter limited non-identifying information about their referral. The Hotline case manager will ask if the reporter would like to receive an email notification; if so, the Hotline case manager will request an email address. If the reporter chooses not to provide an email address, they still receive a referral ID that can be entered and tracked through the link provided below.
The reporter can also choose to receive a notification letter letting them know whether or not their report has been assigned for investigation or assessment by the Tennessee Department of the Children's Services. In order to receive this letter the Hotline case manager must gather your contact information, including your name, mailing address, and phone number.
Who is taking my report?
All case managers at the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline receive specialized training in child safety and risk assessment, as well as interviewing and call center protocols. All case managers hold, at minimum, a bachelor's degree.