State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all instances where they know of or observe a child that they know or reasonably suspect to have been the victim of child abuse.[112] The definition of child abuse within the statutes includes sexual abuse and makes specific reference to the offenses listed in the previous section. The statute applies regardless of the defendant’s relationship to the victim.[113] However, mandatory reporters are only required to report consensual sexual activity involving minors under the following circumstances:[114]

Unlawful sexual intercourse when the victim is less than 16 years of age and the defendant is at least 21 years of age.
Lewd or lascivious acts between a minor less than 14 years of age and another minor of disparate age.[115]
Lewd or lascivious acts where the victim is between 14 and 15 years of age and the defendant is at least 10 years older than the victim.
Sexual penetration where the victim is less than 14 years of age and the defendant is more than 10 years older than the victim.
In addition, the statute states that “the pregnancy of a minor does not, in and of itself, constitute a basis for a reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse.”[116] The California Court of Appeals has similarly found that mandated reporters are not required to report cases in which a minor is found to have a sexually transmitted disease.[117]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include persons in any of the following positions who encounter a case of abuse through their professional capacity or through their employment responsibilities: any administrator or employee of an organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children; public assistance workers; prosecutors; child support caseworkers and investigators; firefighters; physical and mental health practitioners; emergency medical technicians and paramedics; marriage, family, and child therapists; state or county public health employees who treat minors for sexually transmitted diseases or any other condition; clergy members;[118] law enforcement officials; and employees and volunteers of Court Appointed Special Advocate programs.[119]

3. Who to report to

Mandated reporters must immediately notify, by telephone, the county welfare department or any police or sheriff’s department (if designated by the county to receive mandated reports) of suspected abuse. They must follow-up with a detailed written report within 36 hours of learning of the incident.[120]

4. State response

The local law enforcement agency is responsible for investigating reports of child abuse. Law enforcement and county welfare or probation department must notify one another, as well as the district attorney’s office, of all reported cases of abuse.[121] The statutes require that, in each county, law enforcement and the county welfare or probation department establish cooperative agreements to coordinate their efforts in the investigation of child abuse. Law enforcement must notify the county welfare or probation department within 36 of commencing an investigation.[122]