How to Report Child Abuse

To report suspected child abuse, call the 24 Hour Child Abuse Hotline:

The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct specify the dentists' responsibility in cases of suspected child abuse. The section reads as follows:

Dentists shall be obliged to become familiar with the perioral signs of child abuse and to report suspected cases to the proper authorities consistent with state laws.

Rhode Island dentists are required by law to report suspected child abuse to the Department of Youth & Families. Failure to report could result in severe civil penalties to include misdemeanor, imprisonment and fines. A false report of child abuse is also punishable by law and there is no exemption of immunity from liability.

A call to the Child Abuse Hotline will initiate legal and social service intervention which can intercept the abuse process to help the family, prevent re-injury and even save the child's life. Dentists who report are exempt from liability.

When reporting, be prepared to answer the following questions.

  1. What are your concerns? How is the child at risk? Be prepared to describe the nature and extent of injuries, including the approximate date of injury.
  2. The name, address, sex, and date of birth of the reported child.
  3. The name, address, and phone number of the adult who has custody of the child.

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Rhode Island Dental Association
875 Centerville Commons, Bldg. 4, Suite 12 | Warwick, RI 02886
(401) 825-7700
(401) 825-7722, fax