Domestic Violence – Failure to report an act of child abuse or neglect

Domestic Violence – Failure to report an act of child abuse or neglect

A person who is mandated either through their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment under section 11164 et seq., of the California Penal Code, to immediately report to an agency listed in section 11165.9 of the California Penal Code, any act or circumstance that they are aware of where they suspect child abuse or neglect which includes physical injury or death, sexual abuse, neglect, or willfully harming or injuring a child, or endangering a child’s person or health, and inflicting unlawful corporal punishment or injury, and fails to do so is guilty of a misdemeanor.1

The statute requires the mandated reporting to specific agencies; and also requires reporting to an employer, supervisor, coworker, school principal, school counselor, or other person, such reporting though does not relieve the person’s continuing obligation to make it to the proper agency as well.2  If two or more persons are aware of a suspected child abuse both are required to report it jointly or individually.3

There are certain circumstances where reporting is authorized but not mandated. Those circumstances are where a mandated reporter suspects a child is suffering, or at great risk of suffering severe emotional injury, as witnessed by unusual anxiety, depression, or isolation from others, or the child exhibits atypical aggression toward others or self. Other individuals, including mandated reporters, who are acting in a private capacity, observe any child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect, are authorized but not required to report it to a proper agency.4

Domestic Violence – Failure to report an act of child abuse or neglect

Those agencies required to receive a report include police or sheriff’s departments, county probation departments, or county welfare departments.5

The report must be made as soon as practically possible. It is first to be done by phone, then to be followed by a fax, written report, or email within 36 hours.6  Where the reporter reasonably believes that the location where the child resides is unfit, then that fact must be reported as well.7

Those mandated to report are over 40 occupations listed in section 11165.7(a) of the California Penal Code. While Clergy are not require to report when information concerning abuse is discovered during penitential communication, they are however when acting in some other capacity that otherwise requires reporting.8

Where a person is required to report a child abuse or neglect and fails to do so they have committed a misdemeanor the penalty for which is up to 6 months in a county jail, or a fine of $1000, or both.

If a person required to report willfully fails to report an abuse or neglect, or a person who impedes or prevents such reporting, and the abuse or neglect results in death or serious injury, the sentence is up to a year in the country jail, a fine of not more than $5000, or both.9

A supervisor or administrator who impedes or prevents a person from complying with his or her reporting duties can be punished by up to 6 months in the county jail, a fine of not more than $1000, or both.10

Also, it is a criminal offense for a person required to report instances of child abuse or neglect to fail to do so even where the information was obtain outside of the professional responsibilities or not through an employment where reporting was required.11





1 Sections 11166(a), 11165.1, 1165.2, 11165.3, 11165.4, 11165.5, 11165.6 of the California Penal Code
2 Section 11166(i)(3) of the California Penal Code
3 Section11166(h) of the California Penal Code
4 Sections 11165.05, 11166(g) of the California Penal Code
5 Section 11165.9 of the California Penal Code
6 Section 11165.9 of the California Penal Code
7 Section 11166(f) of the California Penal Code
8 Sections 11166(d)(1), (d)(2) of the California Penal Code
9 Section 11166.01(b) of the California Penal Code
10 Section 11166.01(a) of the California Penal Code
11 Section 11172(a) of the California Penal Code