For victims of child abuse, seeking compensation from those responsible for or who contributed to the abuse is critical to achieving a just resolution to their case. For the victim, of course, this may entail filing a civil suit and seeking damages to compensate for costs and suffering result from the abuse. It is also possible, in some cases, to seek compensation from other parties who may have contributed to the abuse.
For instance, an abuse victim may be able to sue those who knew or should have known about the abuse, such as school or church staff and administration, or staff members at child care facilities. One of the ways an abuse victim can demonstrate negligence is to highlight failure to comply with mandatory reporting rules. Mandatory reporting is intended to protect victims of abuse and stop and abuser from harming others, but when those bound by the mandatory reporting law fail to abide by the rules, the law isn’t effective.
Under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, certain categories of individuals are required to report various types of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, willful cruelty or unjustified punishment, unlawful corporal punishment or injury, as well as severe and general neglect. Certain categories of harm to minors are not required to be reported, including mutual fights between minors, reasonable and necessary force used by a police officer, and reasonable and necessary force used by public school employees to stop threats of physical injury to person or property, for self-defense, or to secure weapons and dangerous objects.
Mandated reporters include clergy members and their supervisors, child care providers, educators, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and processors of commercial film and photographic print. This list is not exhaustive, as other categories of individuals must report suspected child abuse as well.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the requirements of the law and why it is important for abuse victims to work with an experienced attorney to hold those accountable who fail to abide by their obligations under the law.