Legal Alert: New Jersey Clarifies Child Abuse Reporting Requirements and Increases Penalties for Failure to Report



New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed into law amendments to the landmark 1971 law that imposes a mandatory obligation on any person who has reasonable cause to believe that an act of child abuse has been committed to immediately report the abuse to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP, formerly DYFS). The amendments clarify that the child abuse reporting requirement includes instances of child sexual abuse.

The reporting requirement applies to any individual in New Jersey, including employees and volunteers of nonprofits. The DCPP maintains a central hotline, 1-877 NJ ABUSE, for reporting child abuse.

In addition to reporting child abuse to the DCPP, Pro Bono Partnership recommends that individuals report the abuse to the local police.

Any person who knowingly fails to make a mandatory report of child abuse to DCPP is guilty of a disorderly person offense, which carries a potential penalty of up to six months of imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. However, as a result of the amendments, any person who knowingly fails to make a mandatory report of child sexual abuse is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree, which carries a potential penalty of up to 18 months of imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

For more information on how and when to report child abuse, see the website of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJDCF) athttps://www.nj.gov/dcf/reporting/how.  Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey (PCANJ) also has helpful information on reporting requirements on its website at https://www.preventchildabusenj.org. In 2013, the NJDCF endorsed the following two PCANJ publications:

Pro Bono Partnership can assist eligible nonprofits with drafting abuse reporting guidelines for their employees and volunteers. For such assistance, please contact Alexandra E. Kilduff, Esq., at 973-240-6955 ext. 305.

This document is provided as a general informational service to volunteers, clients, and friends of Pro Bono Partnership.  It should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does distribution of this document create an attorney-client relationship.