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TENNESSEE COMPILATION OF SELECTED LAWS ON CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, 2011 EDITION

TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED

Title 37 Juveniles

Chapter 1 Juvenile Courts and Proceedings

Part 4 Mandatory Child Abuse Reports

37-1-409. Reports confidential - Authorized access to information - Penalty for violation.

(a) (1) Except as otherwise provided by this section and §§ 37-1-612 and §§ 37-5-107, reports of harm made under this part and the identity of the reporter are confidential, except when the juvenile court in which the investigation report is filed, in its discretion, determines the testimony of the person reporting to be material to an indictment or conviction.

(2) Except as may be ordered by the juvenile court as herein provided, the name of any person reporting child abuse shall not be released to any person, other than employees of the department or other child protection team members responsible for child protective services, the abuse registry, or the appropriate district attorney general upon subpoena of the Tennessee bureau of investigation, without the written consent of the person reporting. Such person's identity shall be irrelevant to any civil proceeding and shall, therefore, not be subject to disclosure by order of any court. This shall not prohibit the subpoenaing of a person reporting child abuse when deemed necessary by the district attorney general or the department to protect a child who is the subject of a report; provided, that the fact that such person made the report is not disclosed.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this part, it is unlawful for any person, except for purposes directly connected with the administration of this part, to disclose, receive, make use of, authorize or knowingly permit, participate in, or acquiesce in the use of any list or the name of, or any information concerning, persons receiving services pursuant to this part, or any information concerning a report or investigation of a report of harm under this part, directly or indirectly derived from the records, papers, files or communications of the department or divisions thereof acquired in the course of the performance of official duties.

(c) In addition to such other purposes as may be directly connected with the administration of this part, the department shall also grant access to information to those persons specified in § 37-1-612.

(d) The department may confirm whether a child abuse or neglect investigation has been commenced, but may not divulge, except as permitted under this part, any details about the case, including, but not limited to, the name of the reporter, the alleged victim, or the alleged perpetrator.

(e) The department shall adopt such rules as may be necessary to carry out the following purposes:

(1) The establishment of administrative and due process procedures for the disclosure of the contents of its files and the results of its investigations for the purpose of protecting children from child sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect; and

(2) For other purposes directly connected with the administration of this chapter, including, but not limited to, cooperation with schools, child care agencies, residential and institutional child care providers, child protection agencies, individuals providing care or protection for the child, medical and mental health personnel providing care for the child and the child's family and the perpetrator of any form of child abuse or neglect, law enforcement agencies, the judicial and correctional systems, and for cooperation with scientific and governmental research on child abuse and neglect.

(f) Except as specifically provided in this chapter, nothing in this chapter shall prevent the department from sharing information with the district attorney general and law enforcement personnel for the purpose of cooperating with a law enforcement investigation. Information from departmental records that is shared with the district attorney general or law enforcement by the department shall remain confidential to the same extent that information not shared with the district attorney general and law enforcement is confidential. Unless otherwise ordered by a court, or to the extent that such information is used for criminal prosecution, or to the extent required under the Tennessee rules of criminal procedure after criminal charges have been filed, any portion of shared information that does not become part of a court record shall remain confidential to the same extent as information not shared by the department remains confidential.

(g) A violation of this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Acts 1973, ch. 81, § 1; 1977, ch. 343, § 4; Acts 1978, ch. 886, § 4; T.C.A., §§ 37-1208, 37-1209; Acts 1985, ch. 478, § 42; 1987, ch. 145, §§ 15, 23; 1988, ch. 964, § 3; 1989, ch. 591, § 112; 2000, ch. 981, § 51; 2005, ch. 391, § 11; 2008, ch. 1146, § 3; 2009, ch. 358, § 3.

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