Child Abuse Reporting

California Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Law 
(Penal Code 11164 – 11174.3)

A mandated reporter must report if s/he:
“has knowledge of or observes a child in his or her professional capacity, or within the scope of his or her employment, whom he or she knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.”
What must be reported:
  • physical injury by other than accidental means

  • sexual abuse – includes physical assault, touching, exposure to masturbation, and pornographic exploitation

  • the willful harming or injuring of a child, including willful cruelty or unjustified punishment – “inflicting or permitting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or the endangerment of the child’s person or health.” 

  • unlawful corporal punishment or injury “willfully inflicted, resulting in a traumatic condition” 

  • neglect – classified as “severe” or “general”, can
    include refusal or delay in healthcare, inadequate supervision, failure to provide adequate food, clothing or shelter, and lack of attention to education, safety hazards, nutrition, or hygiene

  • abuse or neglect occurring in out-of-home care

What does NOT need to be reported as child abuse:

  • reasonable and age appropriate spanking on the buttocks with an open hand [California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300a]
  • mutual affray between minors
  • injury caused by reasonable and necessary force used by a peace officer acting within the scope and course of his/her duties

Mandatory reporting and domestic violence

The presence of domestic violence in the home by itself does not require mandatory child abuse reporting, unless there has been:

1) a DV incident which caused or created a serious risk of injury to the child, or

2) a DV incident which caused or created a substantial risk of serious emotional damage to the child.

-- from Santa Clara County Counsel’s office

Newborn Positive
Toxicology Screen

A newborn positive toxicology screen does not in itself require a report, but leads to an assessment of the mother and a risk assessment for the child. This may then lead to a report being filed.