Reporting Abuse Against Children or Dependent Adults and Elders
Many University employees are required by law to report crimes against children or dependent adults and elders to law enforcement or social services authorities. California's Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) imposes an obligation to report child abuse or neglect on certain individuals and establishes procedures to report suspected child abuse or neglect or the suspected abuse of dependent adults and elders.
These brief guidelines provide answers to many common questions about CANRA and the obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect. The complete text of CANRA (California Penal Code sections 11164-11174.4) may be found via Official California Legislative Information.
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Overview of CANRA
- Overview of CANRA (PDF)
General Provisions of Reporting Abuse Against Children or Dependent Adults and Elders
What are CANRA's Basic Reporting Provisions?
Reporting Abuse of Children
A Mandated Reporter must make a report whenever, in his/her professional capacity or within the scope of his/her employment, he/she has knowledge of, or observes a person under the age of eighteen whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.
Reporting Abuse of Dependent Adults or Elders
Mandatory Reporters are also required to report suspected abuse or neglect of dependent adults or elders when told by the dependent adult or elder that he/she has experienced abuse or neglect, or when the Mandated Reporter reasonably suspects abuse or neglect of a dependent adult or elder.
"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)).
When is a Mandated Reporter Required to Make a Report?
If you are a mandated reporter and you reasonably suspect child abuse has occurred, you must make two reports:
- You must contact a designated agency immediately or as soon as practically possible by telephone.
- You must file a written report within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident.
If you are a mandated reporter and you reasonably suspect dependent adult or elder abuse has occurred, you must make three reports:
- You must report to either local law enforcement or the local long-term ombudsman immediately or as soon as practically possible by telephone.
- You must file a written report within two working days.
- An internal report must be made to the Mandated Reporter's supervisor or to the University Compliance Hotline. This internal report may be made anonymously.
What are the Responsibilities of the University when Employing a Mandated Reporter?
Any person entering employment with the University in a role that makes him/her a mandated reporter must sign a statement acknowledging the requirement to report child abuse and neglect, to report dependent adult or elder abuse and neglect, and to comply with the provisions of CANRA.
Campus departments shall determine which positions are mandated reporters, and shall obtain the signed forms as a prerequisite to employment, promotion, or transfer. The forms are the Statement Acknowledging Requirement to Report Child Abuse and Statement Acknowledging Requirement to Report Suspected Abuse of Dependent Adults and Elders (PDF). Signed forms are retained in the department personnel file.
Who is a Mandated Reporter?
As of January 1, 2013, Mandated Reporters include the following new categories:
- An employee or administrator whose duties bring the administrator or employee into contact with children on a regular basis, or who supervises those whose duties bring the administrator or employee into contact with children on a regular basis, as to child abuse or neglect occurring on that institution's premises or at an official activity of, or program conducted by, the institution
- An athletic coach, including, but not limited to, an assistant coach or a graduate assistant involved in coaching, at public or private postsecondary institutions
Public or private schools:
- Instructional Aides
- Teacher's Aides
- Teacher's Assistants
- Classified Employees
- Administrative Officers and Supervisors of child welfare attendance
- Certified pupil personnel employees, administrators or presenters of or counselors in child abuse prevention programs
Community care or child day care facilities:
Private youth centers, youth recreation programs, youth organizations:
- Administrators or employees.
Health care professionals - all licensed health professionals and certain trainees and interns, including:
- Dentists (and residents and interns)
- Licensed nurses
- Dental hygienists
- Marriage and family therapists (and trainees and interns)
- Clinical social workers
- Professional clinical counselors (and trainees and interns)
- Certified EMTs, paramedics, and other emergency technicians
- Registered psychological assistants
- Alcohol and drug counselors
- Coroners, medical examiners, and others who perform autopsies
Law enforcement and public safety professionals:
- Employees of any police department, county sheriff's department, county probation department, or county welfare department
- Peace officers
- District attorney investigators, inspectors, local child support agency caseworkers (unless the investigator, inspector or caseworker is working with certain attorneys to represent the children)
- Social workers
- Probation officers, parole officers
- Employees of school district police or security departments
- Animal control and human society officers
- Priests, ministers, rabbis, religious practitioners, or similar functionaries of any church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization; and their respective records custodians
Any public or private organization:
- Administrators or employees whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children
Child care institutions:
- Employees (including, but not limited to, foster parents, group home personnel, personnel of residential care facilities)
State Department of Education:
- County Offices of Education employees whose duties bring them into contact with children on a regular basis
State Department of Social Services (and county contractors):
- Licensing workers and licensing evaluators
Head Start Program:
Commercial photography and filmmaking:
- Commercial film and photographic print processors (including anyone who develops exposed photographic film into negatives, slides, or prints, or who makes prints from negatives or slides, for compensation, as well as their employees), excluding public agencies
- Public assistance workers
- State and county public health employees who treat minors for VD or other conditions
- Compensated child visitation monitors
- Employees or volunteers of Court Appointed Special Advocate program
- Certain custodial officers
- Supportive services providers delivering services to children under the Welfare & Institutions Code
Section 11165.7 of CANRA further defines Mandated Reporter as any of the following:
- A teacher.
- An instructional aide.
- A teacher's aide or teacher's assistant employed by any public or private school.
- A classified employee of any public school.
- An administrative officer or supervisor of child welfare and attendance, or a certificated pupil.
- An administrator of a public or private day camp.
- An administrator or employee of a public or private youth center, youth recreation program, or youth organization.
- An administrator or employee of a public or private organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children.
- Any employee of a county office of education or the California Department of Education, whose duties bring the employee into contact with children on a regular basis.
- A licensee, an administrator, or an employee of a licensed community care or child day care facility.
- A Head Start program teacher.
- A licensing worker or licensing evaluator employed by a licensing agency as defined in Section 11165.11.
- A public assistance worker.
- An employee of a child care institution, including, but not limited to, foster parents, group home personnel, and personnel of residential care facilities.
- A social worker, probation officer, or parole officer.
- An employee of a school district police or security department.
- Any person who is an administrator or presenter of, or a counselor in, a child abuse prevention program in any public or private school.
- A district attorney investigator, inspector, or local child support agency caseworker unless the investigator, inspector, or caseworker is working with an attorney appointed pursuant to Section 317 of the Welfare and Institutions Code to represent a minor.
- A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, who is not otherwise described in this section.
- A firefighter, except for volunteer firefighters.
- A physician, surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, dentist, resident, intern, podiatrist, chiropractor, licensed nurse, dental hygienist, optometrist, marriage, family, and child counselor, clinical social worker, or any other person who is currently licensed under Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code.
- Any emergency medical technician I or II, paramedic, or other person certified pursuant to Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code.
- A psychological assistant registered pursuant to Section 2913 of the Business and Professions.
- A marriage, family, and child therapist trainee, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 4980.03 of the Business and Professions Code.
- An unlicensed marriage, family, and child therapist intern registered under Section 4980.44 of the Business and Professions Code.
- A state or county public health employee who treats a minor for venereal disease or any other condition.
- A coroner.
- A medical examiner, or any other person who performs autopsies.
- A commercial film and photographic print processor, as specified in subdivision (d) of Section 11166. As used in this article, "commercial film and photographic print processor" means any person who develops exposed photographic film into negatives, slides, or prints, or who makes prints from negatives or slides, for compensation. The term includes any employee of such a person; it does not include a person who develops film or makes prints for a public agency.
- A child visitation monitor. As used in this article, "child visitation monitor" means any person who, for financial compensation, acts as monitor of a visit between a child and any other person when the monitoring of that visit has been ordered by a court of law.
An animal control officer or humane society officer. For the purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:
- "Animal control officer" means any person employed by a city, county, or city and county for the purpose of enforcing animal control laws or regulations.
- "Humane society officer" means any person appointed or employed by a public or private entity as a humane officer who is qualified pursuant to Section 14502 or 14503 of the Corporations Code.
- A clergy member, as specified in subdivision (c) of Section 11166. As used in this article, "clergy member" means a priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization.
- Any custodian of records of a clergy member, as specified in subdivision (c) of Section 11166.
- Any employee of any police department, county sheriff's department, county probation department, or county welfare department.
- An employee or volunteer of a Court Appointed Special Advocate program, as defined in Rule 1424 of the California Rules of Court.
- A custodial officer as defined in Section 831.5.
- Any person providing services to a minor child under Section 12300-12300.1 of the Welfare Institutions Code.
- An alcohol and drug counselor.
- A clinical counselor trainee as defined under subdivision (g) of Section 4999.12 of the Business and Professions Code.
- A clinical counselor intern registered under Section 4999.42 of the Business Professions Code.
Details of Reporting Abuse Against Children
What is Child Abuse?
The Penal Code (P.C.) defines child abuse as: "a physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means on a child by another person." It also includes emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or abuse in out-of-home care. Child abuse does not include a "mutual affray between minors," "reasonable and necessary force used by a peace officer" under specified circumstances, or spanking that is reasonable and age appropriate and does not expose the child to risk of serious injury.(P.C. 11165.6, Welfare and Institutions Code (W&IC) Section 300.)
What Types of Child Abuse and Neglect Must Be Reported?
Mandated Reporters must report the following types of child abuse and neglect:
- Sexual abuse meaning sexual assault or sexual exploitation of a child.
- Neglect meaning the negligent treatment, lack of treatment, or the maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child's welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child's health or welfare.
- Physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means.
- Willful harming or injuring or endangering a child meaning a situation in which any person inflicts, or willfully causes or permits a child to suffer, unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or causes or permits a child to be placed in a situation in which the child or child's health if endangered.
- Unlawful corporal punishment or injury willfully inflicted on a child an resulting in traumatic conditions.
How Should a Mandated Reporter Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect?
A mandated reporter must make an initial report immediately or as soon as is practicably possible by telephone. The mandated reporter then must prepare and send, fax, or electronically transmit a written follow‐up report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident. The mandated reporter may include with the report any non-privileged documentary evidence the mandated reporter possesses relating to the incident.
Where Should a Mandated Reporter Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect?
Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect must be made to:
- any police department or sheriff's department,
- county probation department (if designated by the county to receive mandated reports),
- county welfare departments, or
- the campus police department.
Details of Reporting Dependent Adult or Elder Abuse
What is a Dependent Adult or Elder?
A dependent adult is a California resident aged 18-64 who has physical or mental limitations that restrict her or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights. These include persons with physical or developmental disabilities or whose physical or mental abilities have diminished with age. Elders are California residents age 65 or older. (W&I 15610.23)
What types of Abuse Towards Dependent Adults or Elders Must be Reported?
Mandated Reporters must report the following types of dependent adult abuse and neglect:
- Physical abuse
- Financial abuse
Where Should a Mandated Reporter Make a Report of Dependent Adult or Elder Abuse and Neglect?
If the abuse occurred in a long-term care facility or residential facility serving adults or elders or an adult day program, reports must be made to:
- local law enforcement,
- local long-term care ombudsman,
- the campus police department, or
- county adult protective services.
In addition, an internal report must be made to the Mandated Reporter's supervisor or to the University Compliance Hotline. This internal report may be made anonymously.
Additional Guidance for Mandated Reporters
If a Mandated Reporter Doesn't Have All the Necessary Information, is a report still required?
Yes. "The mandated reporter shall make a report even if some of the above information is not known or is uncertain to him or her." PC § 11167(a).
Is there Immunity for Making a Report?
Those persons legally mandated to report suspected child abuse have immunity from criminal or civil liability for reporting as required or authorized by the child abuse and neglect reporting law.
May a University Employee Report Child Abuse Even if They Are Not a Mandated Reporter?
Any person who has knowledge of or observes a child whom he or she knows or reasonably suspects has been a victim of child abuse or neglect may report the known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect.
May Child Abuse Reports be Made Anonymously?
Mandated reporters must identify themselves when making child abuse reports. However, persons not legally mandated to report may make anonymous reports.
Will My Identity and My Report be Confidential?
The identity of all persons who report under CANRA will be confidential and disclosed only:
- Among agencies receiving or investigating mandated reports;
- To counsel in certain cases arising out of a report;
- To a licensing agency when abuse or neglect in out‐of‐home care is reasonably suspected;
- When those persons waive confidentiality; or
- By court order
What if a Mandated Reporter is Not Sure That Abuse Has Occurred?
Confirmation of abuse is not required. Reporters must report whenever they have "reasonable suspicion" that abuse has occurred.
Does a Mandated Reporter Have to Make a Report if They Have Reason to Believe a Person was an "Abuser" Rather than a Victim?
Yes. A mandated reporter must report child abuse "whenever the mandated reporter . . . has knowledge of . . . a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect." PC§ 11166(a). Mandated Reporters do not have to know the victim personally. As long as they have facts sufficient to create an objectively reasonable suspicion of abuse, they must report.
Are Mandated Reporters Required to Make a Report if the Abuse Happened a Long Time Ago?
Yes. CANRA requires mandated reporters to report abuse of minors. It does not relieve Mandated Reporters of their reporting duty simply because acts occurred several years ago.
Can Individuals be Held Liable for Not Making Reports About Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect?
Yes. A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine, or both. He or she may also be found civilly liable for damages, especially if the child-victim or another child is further victimized because of the failure to report.
Can Individuals be Held Liable for Making Reports About Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect?
It depends on whether the reporter was a mandated reporter or not. Mandated reporters are protected by law from civil and criminal liability. However, voluntary reporters can be held liable for filing a false report if "it can be proven that a false report was made and the person knew that the report was false or . . . made [it] with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the report." PC § 11172(a)
Can Individuals be Held Liable for Not Making Reports About Suspected Dependent Adult or Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Yes. Failure to make a mandatory report may result in fines ranging from $1,000-$5,000 and imprisonment for 6 months to 1 year.
Guidance for All University Employees
If a University employee knows or reasonably believes that a child or dependent adult or elder has been abused or is in immediate danger of abuse, the employee should immediately contact the campus police department (UCPD) at (510) 642-6760.
Employees may also make a report via any of the following means:
- UC Statement of Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct (PDF)
- California Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training
- Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (California Penal Code sections 11164-11174.4)
- "Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms," a publication by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
- California Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse Prevention (PDF)