When is a mandatory reporter in California required to report known or suspected child abuse?
According to the Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention, child abuse must be reported when one who is a legally mandated reporter 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..." (P.C. 11166(a)). The term "reasonable suspicion" occurs when it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain such a suspicion, 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." (P.C. 11166(a)(1)) The intent of this definition is clear: if you suspect, report.
A mandatory reporter must make a report IMMEDIATELY (or soon as practically possible) by phone. A writen report must be forwarded within 36 hours of receiving the information regarding the incident (P.C. 11166(a)). Written reports must be submitted on Department of Justice forms, which can be requested from a local police or sheriff's department (not including school district police or security department), or a county welfare department. (P.C. 11168)
When 2 or more persons who are required to report have joint knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, and there is agreement among them, the telephone call may be made by the selected team member. A single written report may then be made and signed by the reporting team member. When there is a failure by the designated team to make the report, any team member who knows shall then be responsible to make the child absue report. (P.C. 11166(f)).