Hotline & Reporting
Statewide hotline and Statutory Mandate to report Abuse and Neglect
Downloaded on 12/30/2018 from State of Florida website at:
A new and improved online abuse reporting tool,
for the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Florida Abuse Hotline is now available. This new reporting tool is available to professionally-mandated reporters, as well as the general public, as an additional avenue to report suspected cases of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation of children or vulnerable adults. The new online reporting tool is in addition to the existing toll free line at
1-800-96-ABUSE, TTY 1-800-955-8771, and fax at 1-800-914-0004.
Features of the new online form:
Does not require a login and password
Allows attachment of important documents
Personal information of the individual reporting abuse will always remain confidential, and individuals can remain confidential.
The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. To make a report you can -
report online at https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/
Florida Relay 711 or TTY 800-955-8771
fax your report to 800-914-0004
If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.
Legislation, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, requires any individual who suspects that a child has been abused by any person to report that to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Any allegations a child was abused or neglected by a caregiver will be investigated by the Department of Children and Families, while allegations of child abuse by someone other than a caregiver will be accepted at the Hotline and immediately electronically transferred to the appropriate local law enforcement agency where the child lives.
Penalties for those who suspect a child is being abused but fail to report it have been increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. Financial penalties also have increased.
Statutory Mandate to report Abuse and Neglect
Mandatory Reports of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect as well as mandatory reports of death; are required to be made on the central abuse hotline [See above section for contact information for the hotline] by Florida Statute (39.201).
Here is who the Florida Statute requires to report:
Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, as defined in this chapter, or that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (2). [All reports can be made on the Florida Abuse Hotline]
Any person who knows, or who has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, as defined in this chapter, shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (2). [All reports can be made on the Florida Abuse Hotline]
Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is the victim of childhood sexual abuse or the victim of a known or suspected juvenile sexual offender, as defined in this chapter, shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (2). [All reports can be made on the Florida Abuse Hotline]
Reporters in the following occupation categories are required to provide their names to the hotline staff:
Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractic physician, nurse, or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons;
Health or mental health professional other than one listed in subparagraph 1.;
Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing;
School teacher or other school official or personnel;
Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care, foster care, residential, or institutional worker;
Law enforcement officer; or
As mentioned above, failure to report is now a felony per Florida Statute (39.205).
A person who is required to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and who knowingly and willfully fails to do so, or who knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. A judge subject to discipline pursuant to s. 12, Art. V of the Florida Constitution shall not be subject to criminal prosecution when the information was received in the course of official duties.
Unless the court finds that the person is a victim of domestic violence or that other mitigating circumstances exist, a person who is 18 years of age or older and lives in the same house or living unit as a child who is known or suspected to be a victim of child abuse, neglect of a child, or aggravated child abuse, and knowingly and willfully fails to report the child abuse commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Any Florida College System institution, state university, or nonpublic college, university, or school, as defined in s. 1000.21 or s. 1005.02, whose administrators knowingly and willfully, upon receiving information from faculty, staff, or other institution employees, fail to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect committed on the property of the university, college, or school, or during an event or function sponsored by the university, college, or school, or who knowingly and willfully prevent another person from doing so, shall be subject to fines of $1 million for each such failure.
Please see Florida Statute 39.201 at http://m.flsenate.gov/Statutes/39.201/ on the internet.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Child Abuse is defined by Florida Statute (827.03) as:
Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child;
Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child
A person who knowingly or willfully abuses a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Statutes. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Aggravated Child Abuse is defined by Florida Statute (827.03) as when someone does the following:
Commits aggravated battery on a child;
Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.
Battery; Felony Battery is defined by Florida Statute (784.03) as occurring when a person:
Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
Aggravated battery is defined by Florida Statute (784.045) as occurring when a person:
A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
Uses a deadly weapon.
A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.
Neglect of a Child is defined by Florida Statute (827.03) as:
A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or
A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
Neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child.
For more details, please go to the statutes mentioned.
The link to 827.03 is https://www.flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2011/827.03
Penalties for FALSE Reporting
A False Report is defined by Florida Statute (39.01) as:
A report of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child to the central abuse hotline, which report is maliciously made for the purpose of:
(a) Harassing, embarrassing, or harming another person;
(b) Personal financial gain for the reporting person;
(c) Acquiring custody of a child; or
(d) Personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a child.
The term “false report” does not include a report of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child made in good faith to the central abuse hotline.
According to Florida Statute (39.205(9)):
A person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or who advises another to make a false report, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Statute 775.082 or Statute 775.083. Anyone making a report who is acting in good faith is immune from any liability under this subsection.
This can involve incarceration of 5 years or more if deemed appropriate by the court and a fine of up to $5,000.
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The above link will take you to the website for ChildWelfare.gov with a variety of articles and website links with information on the effects of Abuse and Domestic Violence on children as well as strategies and solutions for turning things around.
Abuse, Domestic Violence and Child Development
Please go to this link for important information on how your child's brain develops and how yelling, as well as physical violence in the home negatively affects the child while this is happening and the long term effects.
You can also find information on Domestic Violence and Abuse on our website:
The information in the articles referred to show the relationship between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse as well as some of the consequences for adults who grow up exposed to this violence.
One of the issues for some adults who grew up with this type of violence is that they continue the abusive behavior with their children, thinking it is normal to yell at their children, physically strike, and ridicule children to "straighten them out."
Of course, how can you know of a better way if you did not have a model for non-violent parenting. If you or someone you know is struggling with parenting strategies there are organizations that can help with learning new skills and strategies. Some of the links to these are on our resource pages, such as: https://www.lifeanewresources.com/divorce-parenting
One of the websites is Conscious Discipline
Most of these are short videos. Other resources can be found at:
Dr. Bailey says, "All behavior is a form of communication. Instead of seeing bad behavior as a sign that a child is inherently bad, you will learn to see behavior as a sign that the child is missing a skill. Instead of trying to control the situation or control the child, you will learn to teach the child the skill that he or she is missing."
Power of Attention - Dr. Becky Bailey - "Becoming the Best You Can Be" Webinar Series
Dr. Becky Bailey at TEDx - Wiring the Brain for Success
Dr. Becky Bailey on PBS - Shifting from Fear to Love
Using Logical Consequences - Conscious Discipline Skills
ANOTHER site teaches Gentle Parenting
"Gentle Parenting is about guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It's about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating. Here you will find parenting tips, articles, and research to help parents, teachers, and caregivers develop a kinder, more peaceful, and instinctive approach to growing our most precious natural resource...our children!"
Little Hearts/ Gentle Parenting Resources
L.R. Knost's compassion, wisdom, and insights into children and their behavior comes through in everything she writes and designs. Please do yourself a favor and check out her website, read the articles, order the books for yourself and your children. She sheds light and gives insight into even some of the most challenging behaviors and how to lovingly help your child to grow and develop inner strength and wisdom.
The Parent Education and Family Stabilization class is designed to, at the very least, give you a glimpse of the long term effect that even something you may think of as minor, a shouting match, an argument between the adults, can effect children of all ages, from infant to teenager.