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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 6 Child Sexual Abuse

37-1-605. Reports of known or suspected child sexual abuse - Investigations - Notification to parents of abuse on school grounds or while under school supervision - Confidentiality of records.

(a) Any person including, but not limited to, any:

(1) Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractor, nurse or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons;

(2) Health or mental health professional other than one listed in subdivision (1);

(3) Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing;

(4) School teacher or other school official or personnel;

(5) Judge of any court of the state;

(6) Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care, foster care, residential or institutional worker;

(7) Law enforcement officer; or

(8) Neighbor, relative, friend or any other person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused;

shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner prescribed in subsection (b).

(b) (1) Each report of known or suspected child sexual abuse pursuant to this section shall be made immediately to the local office of the department responsible for the investigation of reports made pursuant to this section or to the judge having juvenile jurisdiction or to the office of the sheriff or the chief law enforcement official of the municipality where the child resides. Each report of known or suspected child sexual abuse occurring in a facility licensed by the department of mental health, as defined in § 33-2-403, or any hospital, shall also be made to the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where such offense occurred. In addition to those procedures provided by this part, the provisions of § 37-1-405 shall also apply to all cases reported hereunder.

(2) If a law enforcement official or judge becomes aware of known or suspected child sexual abuse, through personal knowledge, receipt of a report or otherwise, such information shall be reported to the department immediately and the child protective team shall be notified to investigate the report for the protection of the child in accordance with the provisions of this part. Further criminal investigation by such official shall be appropriately conducted.

(3) Reports involving known or suspected institutional child sexual abuse shall be made and received in the same manner as all other reports made pursuant to this section.

(c) Any person required to report or investigate cases of suspected child sexual abuse who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child died as a result of child sexual abuse shall report such suspicion to the appropriate medical examiner. The medical examiner shall accept the report for investigation and shall report the medical examiner's findings, in writing, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate district attorney general, and the department. Autopsy reports maintained by the medical examiner shall not be subject to the confidentiality requirements provided for in § 37-1-612.

(d) (1) Notwithstanding § 37-5-107 or § 37-1-612 or any other law to the contrary, if a school teacher, school official or any other school personnel has knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that a child who attends such school may be a victim of child abuse or child sexual abuse sufficient to require reporting pursuant to this section and that the abuse occurred on school grounds or while the child was under the supervision or care of the school, then the principal or other person designated by the school shall verbally notify the parent or legal guardian of the child that a report pursuant to this section has been made and shall provide other information relevant to the future well-being of the child while under the supervision or care of the school. The verbal notice shall be made in coordination with the department of children's services to the parent or legal guardian within twenty-four (24) hours from the time the school, school teacher, school official or other school personnel reports the abuse to the department of children's services; provided, that in no event may the notice be later than twenty-four (24) hours from the time the report was made. The notice shall not be given to any parent or legal guardian if there is reasonable cause to believe that the parent or legal guardian may be the perpetrator or in any way responsible for the child abuse or child sexual abuse.

(2) Once notice is given pursuant to subdivision (d)(1), the principal or other designated person shall provide to the parent or legal guardian all school information and records relevant to the alleged abuse or sexual abuse, if requested by the parent or legal guardian; provided, that the information is edited to protect the confidentiality of the identity of the person who made the report, any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure, and any information made confidential pursuant to federal law or § 10-7-504(a)(4). The information and records described in this subdivision (d)(2) shall not include records of other agencies or departments.

(3) For purposes of this subsection (d), “school” means any public or privately operated child care agency, as defined in § 71-3-501, preschool, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary school or secondary school.

Acts 1985, ch. 478, § 6; 1987, ch. 145, §§ 2, 11; 1988, ch. 953, § 14; 1993, ch. 439, § 2; 1994, ch. 901, § 2; 2000, ch. 947, §§ 6, 8M; 2008, ch. 1011, § 2; 2009, ch. 283, §§ 4, 5; 2010, ch. 1100, § 54.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2008, ch. 1011, § 4 provided that the state board of education, acting in consultation with the department of children's services, is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of the act. The rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

Acts 2010, ch. 1100, § 153 provided that the commissioner of mental health and developmental disabilities, the commissioner of mental health, the commissioner of intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the commissioner of finance and administration are authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of the act. All such rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

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