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Briefing Paper Series

Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse in the State of New Mexico

New Mexico Mandatory Reporting Law

New Mexico law requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities. This mandatory reporting applies to all individuals and is not limited to teachers or health care professionals. Therefore, all SMU-in-Taos employees should be familiar with New Mexico law pertaining to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

Section 32A-4-3 of the New Mexico Children’s Code mandates that anyone who has knowledge or a reasonable suspicion that a child is an abused or neglected child must report it immediately.  The report may be made to (1) a law enforcement agency; (2) the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department; or (3) a tribal law enforcement or social services agency for any child residing in Indian Country. Merely reporting the incident to a supervisor or manager is insufficient.

New Mexico law broadly defines “abused child” and “neglected child” so that every action in which a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected is potentially covered. If there is a question whether a child is an “abused child” or “neglected child” as defined by the law, always err on the side of the child’s safety and report the incident.

Any person who makes a report of child abuse or neglect is presumed to be acting in good faith under New Mexico law and shall be immune from civil or criminal liability absent an affirmative showing of bad faith or malicious purpose. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Implications for SMU-in-Taos Employees

  • If you suspect child abuse or neglect has taken place on the SMU-in-Taos campus or   at any SMU function, immediately make a report to Taos County Sheriff’s Department at 575-758-2216.

  • If there is an immediate threat, call 911.

Do not hesitate to contact the SMU Office of Legal Affairsif you have a question or if you need further information.