Title 5 (Judicial Procedure), Subtitle 2 (Family Division Procedure), Chapter 201 (Family Division of the Superior Court), Subchapter IV (Sections 2532 to 2555) (Abuse and Neglect Matters)
2532: Purpose of subchapter.
The public policy of this territory is to protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through abuse and neglect; to strengthen the family and to make the home safe for children by enhancing the parental capacity for good care; to provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary; and for these purposes to require the reporting of child abuse, investigation of such reports, and provision of services when needed by the child and family.
2533: Persons mandated to report suspected abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
(a) When any physician, hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons, nurse, dentist or any other medical or mental health professional, school teacher or other school personnel, social service worker, day-care worker or other child-care or foster-care worker, or any peace officer or law enforcement official, has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, or observes the child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, he shall immediately report it or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter.
(b) Whenever any person is required to report under this subchapter in his capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, he shall immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school facility or agency, or his designated agent, who shall then also become responsible to report or cause reports to be made. However, nothing in this subchapter is intended to require more than one report from any such institution, school or agency; but neither is it intended to prevent individuals from reporting on their own behalf.
(c) In addition to those persons and officials specifically required to report suspected child abuse, sexual abuse and neglect, any other person may make a report if such person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or observes the child has been abused or neglected or observes the child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.
2534: Reporting procedures.
(a) Reports of child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect made pursuant to this subchapter shall be made immediately by telephone or otherwise to the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department (V.I.P.D.) or to the Department of Social Welfare. The U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department (V.I.P.D.) shall relay such reports to the Department of Social Welfare immediately or, at the latest, at the commencement of the next regular office hours of the Department of Social Welfare. At the request of the Department of Social Welfare, an oral report shall be followed by a written report within 48 hours.
(b) To the extent possible, such reports shall include the following information: the names and addresses of the child and his parents or other persons responsible for his care; the child’s age and sex; the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, sexual abuse or neglect to the child or any other child in the same home; the name and address of the person responsible for the injuries, sexual abuse or neglect, the family composition, the source of the report, including the name of the person making the report, his occupation and his address; any action taken by the reporting source, including the taking of X-rays or color photographs or filing for temporary custody; and any other information that the person making the report believes may further the purpose of this subchapter.
2537: Immunity from liability.
Any person, official or institution participating in good faith in any act permitted or required by this subchapter shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability that otherwise might result by reason of such actions.
2538: Abrogation of privileged communications.
The privileged quality of communications between husband and wife and between any professional person and his patient or his client, except that between attorney and client, is hereby abrogated in situations involving alleged child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Such privileged communications, excluding those of attorney and client, shall not constitute grounds for failure to report as required or permitted by this subchapter, or to give or accept evidence in any judicial proceedings relating to child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.
2539: Failure to report
Any person, official or institution required by this subchapter to report a case of alleged child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, or to perform any other act, who knowingly fails to do so, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
2541: Education and training
Within available funding and as appropriate, the Department of Social Welfare shall conduct a public education program in order to encourage maximum reporting of alleged child abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. To the extent possible, such education programs shall include information on the extent and nature of the problem, the duties and responsibilities of persons required to report and the duties and functions of the Department of Social Welfare.
Year of enactment1983