A list of persons whose profession qualifies them as “mandated reporters” of child abuse or neglect is found in California Penal Code Section 11165.7 (see link to PDF file below). The list is extensive and continues to grow. It includes all school/district employees, administrators, and athletic coaches. All persons hired into positions included on the list of mandated reporters are required, upon employment, to be provided with a statement, informing them that they are a mandated reporter and their obligations to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect pursuant to California Penal Code Section 11166.5.
All persons who are mandated reporters are required, by law, to report all known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. It is not the job of the mandated reporter to determine whether the allegations are valid. If child abuse or neglect is reasonably suspected or if a pupil shares information with a mandated reporter leading him/her to believe abuse or neglect has taken place, the report must be made. No supervisor or administrator can impede or inhibit a report or subject the reporting person to any sanction.
To make a report, an employee must contact an appropriate local law enforcement or county child welfare agency, listed below. This legal obligation is not satisfied by making a report of the incident to a supervisor or to the school. An appropriate law enforcement agency may be one of the following:
The report should be made immediately over the telephone and should be followed up in writing. The law enforcement agency has special forms for this purpose that they will ask you to complete. If a report cannot be made immediately over the telephone, then an initial report may be made via e-mail or fax. A report may also be filed at the same time with your school district or county office of education (COE). School districts and COEs, however, do not investigate child abuse allegations, nor do they attempt to contact the person suspected of child abuse or neglect.
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse often leaves visible scars, not all child abuse is as obvious, but can do just as much harm. It is important that individuals working with and around children be able to know what constitutes child abuse or child neglect and know how to identify potential signs.
One does not have to be physically present or witness the abuse to identify suspected cases of abuse, or even have definite proof that a child may be subject to child abuse or neglect. Rather, the law requires that a person have a “reasonable suspicion” that a child has been the subject of child abuse or neglect. Under the law, this means that it is reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion of child abuse or neglect, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person, in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect.
Red flags for abuse and neglect are often identified by observing a child’s behavior at school, recognizing physical signs, and observations of dynamics during routine interactions with certain adults. While the following signs are not proof that a child is the subject of abuse or neglect, they should prompt one to look further.