Child Abuse & Neglect

RSMo 210.109 - 210.183 is state legislation that was enacted for the purpose of mandating and encouraging the reporting of child abuse to proper authorities. It places duties on certain individuals to act when child abuse is suspected. The requirement is that when such an individual has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect, or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, a report must be made to the Children’s Division (formally known as Division of Family Services). If there is evidence of sexual abuse or sexual molestation of any child, the Children’s Division must be notified within 24 hours.


Abuse is defined in Missouri as “any physical injury, sexual abuse or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child’s care, custody and control, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse” (RSMo, 210.110).

Neglect is defined as failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition, medical, surgical or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being.

Who Must Report

Hospital and clinic personnel engaged in examination, care or treatment of persons
Mental health professionals
Social workers
Day care center workers or other child care workers
Juvenile officers
Probation or parole officers
Jail or detention center personnel
Ministers, as provided by section 352.400, RSMo.
Peace officers or law enforcement officials
or other persons with responsibility for the care of children

How to Report – Missouri Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline 1-800-392-3738

Reports to the Children’s Division (formally known as Division of Family Services) should be made either orally or in writing and should include the following information:

Any report of suspected abuse or neglect should be properly documented in the child's chart and reported to supervisors according to agency policy.

Summary of the Law

The child abuse/neglect legislation 210.109 to 210.183, RSMo, contains several statutes that deal with various aspects of reporting. The main points of the statutes are summarized as follows:

Sheryl Feutz-Harter. (1993). Missouri Statutes Affecting Nursing Practice. Professional Education Systems, Inc.

Colleagues for Children (2000), Child Abuse and Neglect, Volume 3, No. 2

Department of Social Services, Children’s Division Staff (2004)

Return to Table of Contents