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The Laws - Abuse Hotline

Definitions for Reporting Abuse

As described in Chapters 39 and 415, Florida Statutes, the Florida Department of Children & Families is charged with providing comprehensive protective services for children who are abused, neglected or at threat of harm and vulnerable adults who are abuse, neglected or exploited in the state by requiring that reports of abuse, neglect, threatened harm, or exploitation be made to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

Law enforcement is to take the lead in all criminal investigations and prosecution.


- any born, unmarried person less than 18 years old who has not been emancipated by order of the court.

View section 39.01, F.S., for definitions regarding children. 

The Florida Abuse Hotline will accept a report when:

  1. There is reasonable cause to suspect that a child
  2. who can be located in Florida, or is temporarily out of the state but expected to return in the immediate future,
  3. has been harmed or is believed to be threatened with harm
  4. from a person responsible for the care of the child.

Definition of Caretaker Responsible (Child): Every child should expect to be safe and protected when in the care of:

  1. PARENT, even if the parent is a minor; or
  3. an ADULT HOUSEHOLD MEMBER found in the home continually or at regular intervals; or
  4. ANOTHER ADULT who has been entrusted with, or voluntarily assumed responsibility for the care of the child; or.
  5. ANOTHER CHILD who is an employee or volunteer of a daycare, public or private school, agency, summer camp or similar facility when given sole responsibility for the care of the child.

Vulnerable Adult

- a person 18 years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.

The Florida Abuse Hotline will accept a report when:

  1. Any vulnerable adult who is a resident of Florida or currently located in Florida
  1. who is believed to have been abused or neglected by a caregiver in Florida, or
  2. suffering from the ill effects of neglect by self and is need of service, or
  3. exploited by any person who stands in a position of trust or confidence, or any person who knows or should know that a vulnerable adult lacks capacity to consent and who obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, their funds, assets or property.

Definition of Possible Responsible Person (Vulnerable Adult):

  1. CAREGIVER to the victim, or
  2. VULNERABLE ADULT in need of services, or
  3. PERSON who stands in a position of trust and confidence, or
  4. PERSON who knows or should know that the vulnerable adult lacks capacity to consent.

Child Laws: Chapter 39, F.S.

Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare is a mandatory reporter per section 39.201(1)(a) Florida Statutes.

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Adult Laws: FS Chapter 415

Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a vulnerable adult has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited mandatory reporter per section 415.1034(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

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