New changes in the child abuse reporting mandates for
California (Criminal Code 11164) mandate additional individuals
who must report. For years clergy and youth leaders have been mandated reporters of abuse they observe, suspect, or even hear about second-hand. If your congregation hosts a school, your teachers and principals have also been mandated reporters.
Among those added to the California law as mandated reporters are an “athletic coach, athletic administrator, or athletic director employed by any public or private school that provides any combination of instruction for kindergarten, or grades 1 to 12, inclusive.” [11165.7(a)(42)]
Volunteers are still not mandated to report suspected abuse, “but are encouraged to obtain training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect and are further encouraged to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to” their supervisor or directly to law enforcement. [11165.7(b)]
The law strongly encourages employers to provide their employees with training in child abuse and neglect identification and reporting. “The absence of training shall not excuse a mandated reporter” from his or her reporting duties. Also, the employers need to provide their employees who are mandated reporters with a written statement notifying them of their obligation; a sample form is on the Kyros website, kyros.org/resources/ . [11165.7(c-e)]
The California child protective code begins with the explanation:
The intent and purpose of this article is to protect children from abuse and neglect. In any investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect, all persons participating in the investigation of the case shall consider the needs of the child victim and shall do whatever is necessary to prevent psychological harm to the child victim. (Note that a child is anyone under 18.)
Though the law certainly isn’t biblical, all of our various faiths also urge the protection of the vulnerable in our midst. Like those who investigate the worst treatment of our children, we too should consider the needs of children and do whatever is necessary to prevent harm to them.