School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting: The Law


The Law

Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

The California penal code, section 11166, says any child care custodian that's you or medical practitioner or even a non-medical practitioner or an employee of a child protective agency, like this foster care home or in some instances homeless shelter, who has knowledge you know this abuse is going on or you have observed the child in your professional capacity (by professional capacity we mean in the course and scope of your employment). Now some teachers say well it happened, but it didn't happen on my watch; it wasn't in the confines of the school day, so it doesn't really pertain to me. It does pertain to us; it is our responsibility if we know or if we observed that a child in our care is being abused. So if you know or as the court points out there test have a reasonable suspicion ënot quite sure, but I think it could be going on' if you know or reasonably suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse you have to report that known or suspected incident of child abuse to a protective services agency. Immediately! Not the next day, as soon it's convenient, when I get a chance immediately. If you for some reason can't make an immediate report, then as soon as practically possible your first break, your first lunch, the prep teacher comes in; these are instances or times when you could get to a telephone you have to make a telephone report immediately, or as soon as practically possible and then follow that telephone report to that protective services agency with a written report within 36 hours. You begin to see how child abuse reporting; not only is it mandatory, but it's time sensitive. So we've got to take actions around these child abuse incidents.

CREDITS: Instruction and Content by Dr. Erma Jean Sims, Sonoma State University. Videography and Technical support by Mark Niemann, Sonoma State University