School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting: Legal Responsibility


Legal Responsibility

Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

Now the good news is that when you file this report you have absolute immunity from any action being taken against you. So this should give you a lot of hope and a lot of encouragement to go ahead and file these reports. You have absolute legal immunity. School employees required to report are not civilly or criminally liable. Therefore no action may be taken against you for filing a report, because this report is mandated and legally required. If you file an authorized report of known or suspected child abuse. Now, there are penalties for not having made a report. I'm hoping the situation would get better. I told the administrator, I'm sure he handled it. And he doesn't. If a mandated reporter fails to report an incidents of child abuse that he or she knows exists or reasonably suspects exists, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by confinement in jail up to 6 months, fine of up to $1,000 or both, depending on how egregious your neglect in filing this report is. So, let's not get ourselves into criminal liability for not having filed this report. Guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable up to 6 months, or fine up to $1,000 or both. I know I don't have $1,000 lying around. Furthermore, isn't our job to protect the children. We know we have to do this reporting. There are penalties both prison time, fine or both that can occur if you don't. When two or more persons who are required to report have joint knowledge of a suspected incident of child abuse and you make an agreement that one of you will file the report by phone, either of you can file it or both of you can file it. If a single report is filed, be very clear about who is going to file that report. The duty to report child abuse is an individual duty. Not a shared duty, I thought the principal was handling it, I thought Ms. Brown was gonna do it for me. It's your individual responsibility. No supervisor or administrator or school employee may impede or inhibit your reporting. Oh, don't worry about that, I know the family. Tom and Suzy would never let anything like that happen in their home. Please do not be dissuaded from filing this report. Furthermore, no person making such a report shall be subject to any sanctions legal sanctions.

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