Reporting Suspected Child Abuse Child abuse is an act of omission or commission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse is everyone’s business, it is a valid public concern and the responsibility to report it is NOT optional; it is mandatory. Educators probably have the best opportunity to identify a problem before it becomes a statistic.
The major legal responsibilities of school personnel or child care custodian are:
1) To identify incidents of suspected child abuse; and
2) To comply with laws [PC 111669(a)] requiring reporting of suspected child abuse to the proper authorities.
Determining whether or not the suspected abuse actually occurred is not the responsibility of the educator. Such determination and follow-up investigation will be made by a child protective agency. Again, the responsibility, by law, of the educator is to report every incident of suspected child abuse- not to substantiate the report. The duty to report child abuse is an individual duty, and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit such reporting duties. Internal procedures to facilitate reporting and apprise supervisors and administrator of reports may be established. Also, Section 11166 states that the internal procedures shall not require any employee to disclose his or her identity to the employer.
Penal Code 11169(a) provides:
1) A telephone report of suspected child abuse shall include the name for the person making the report, the name and location of the child, the nature and extent of the injury, and any other information, including information that led such person to suspect abuse, with a written follow-up report submitted within 36 clock hours to Child Protective Services and the local law enforcement.
2) Information relevant to the incident of child abuse may also be given to an investigator from a child protective agency who is investigating the case.
3) The identity of all persons who report under this article shall be confidential and disclosed only by court order or between child protective agencies or the probation department.
Immunity of Reporting Persons [Penal Code 11172(a)]:
Persons required to report, such as educators, are not liable for civil damages nor for criminal prosecution for reporting child abuse as required by law. Penal Code 11172(b): Any mandated reporter who fails to report an instance of child abuse which he or she knows to exist or reasonably suspect to exist, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by confinement in the county jail for a term not to exceed six months or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or both.