What Are Mandatory Reporting Laws?
Child abuse is a very serious offense that most people do not ignore. As soon as it is discovered that someone has hurt or abused a child, the authorities will be alerted. Then the accused person will be arrested and face criminal charges. More on that can be found here.
Hurting a child is cruel and so most people are against the act. If they think they are seeing signs of child abuse, they will likely report it to the proper authorities. What some people may not be aware of, is that there are certain professions that are required by law to report suspected incidents of child abuse. Failing to do so can result in legal consequences.
Who Are Mandatory Reporters?
The state of California has a law known as Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). This law labels certain jobs as mandatory reporters. Some of the people who are mandatory reporters include:
- Administrators and employees of youth programs.
- Child care employees.
- Child visitation monitors.
- Clergy members.
- Computer technicians.
- Head start program teachers.
- Instructional aides.
- Police officers.
- Public assistance workers.
- Public school employees.
- School security.
- Social workers.
- Teacher’s aides.
This means that someone working in any of the above fields has to file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect of anyone under the age of 18, to local law enforcement and to social services within 36 hours of learning of the abuse. If a person in these fields suspects that a child is being abused, or neglected, they have to file a report. If they fail to do that, then they could face legal consequences.
The Consequences of Failing to Report
Mandatory reporters are meant to help keep kids safe. If they don’t properly file a report in a timely manner, a kid could get severely hurt, or even die. That is something that no one wants to happen.
When a person fails to file a report of suspected neglect or abuse, they will be charged with a misdemeanor offense. This means that they will face:
- Up to 6 months in county jail.
- A max fine of $1,000.
If a person working in one of the professions listed under CANRA willfully chooses to not report suspected abuse or neglect, and the child dies or suffers great bodily harm, the person will face:
- Up to 1 year in county jail.
- A max fine of $5,000.
Reporting Could Save a Child
Children are very important for the future and they don’t always know how to ask for help. This means that adults need to be the ones to help kids out. This is what parents are supposed to do, but sometimes they are the ones causing the problem. When that is the case, it is up to mandatory reporters to come to the child’s rescue.
Due to this fact, it is very important that every mandatory reporter do their job and report incidents of abuse, or even suspected abuse. After all, it is often better to be safe, than sorry.
What do you think of California’s mandatory reporting laws? Is it the right thing to do to force people to report suspected cases of abuse? What about the consequences for failing to report, are they fair? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.