Ask Jack: Do Shield Laws For Reporting Child Sexual Abuse Extend To Social Media Posts?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

If person calls out someone as a sexual abuser on social media, do shield laws protect the person from lawsuits?


Shield laws are written to protect reporters of child sexual abuse from claims regarding reports of reasonable suspicions of abuse made to law enforcement or child protective services. The immunity is built into state statutes.

Most shield laws do not extend to reports of sexual abuse made via social media or by any other method, or made to any other person or entity, except law enforcement or child protective services.

In an NBC news report, in 2016, a New York family's son stated to his family that a babysitter sexually abused him many years prior. The mother of the son went onto social media and posted that the babysitter sexually abused her son as a warning to other parents. The babysitter is now suing the family for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Mar. 24, 2024).

The final takeaway is that to prevent tort claims, reports of sexual abuse should be made just to the authorities and not via social media. Reasonable suspicions of abuse made to the authorities are protected, but knowingly false claims are not.

Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

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