Under UK law only local authority social workers, health and social service board social workers (Northern Ireland) and police have a duty to report suspicions that a child is in need of care and protection.Local child protection guidelines and professional codes of conduct may expect other professionals, such as teachers and medical staff, to report, but they do not have to do so as a matter of law.As of November 2013, in 18 states and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report suspected abuse or neglect regardless of profession.In all other States, territories, and the District of Columbia, any non-mandated person is also allowed to report.The criteria for reporting vary greatly among jurisdictions.In some, for example, only physical or sexual abuse to be reported must be reported, while elsewhere any signs of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect are included.
Approximately 78% of all investigations are unsubstantiated and approximately 22% are substantiated, with around 9% where "alternative responses" are offered in some states, which have a focus on working with the family to address issues rather than confirming maltreatment.
Typically, mandatory reporting applies to people who have reason to suspect the abuse or neglect of a child, but it can also apply to people who suspect abuse or neglect of a dependent adult or the elderly, In Malaysia, The Child Act 2001 requires any medical officer or medical practitioner, childcare provider or member of the family to notify his/her concerns, suspicions or beliefs that a child may have been abused or neglected to the appropriate child protection authority in the country. In South Africa, Section 110 of the Children's Act, 2005 mandates 'Any correctional official, dentist, homeopath, immigration official, labour inspector, legal practitioner, medical practitioner, midwife, minister of religion, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist, religious leader, social service professional, social worker, speech therapist, teacher, traditional health practitioner, traditional leader or member of staff or volunteer worker at a partial care facility, drop-in centre or child and youth care centre' to report when they suspect that a child has been abused 'in a manner causing physical injury, sexually abused or deliberately neglected'.
The Sexual Offences Act, 1957, compels all citizens who are aware of the sexual exploitation of children to report the offence to the police.
Mandated reporters are usually required to give their name when they make a report.
This allows investigators to contact them for further details if needed, and protects the mandated reporter from accusations that they did not report as required by law.