Many professionals are required to report when they suspect that child or elder abuse has occurred. Although one may have been educated to the requirements for mandatory reporting, it is important to be cognizant of the strict rules regarding mandatory reporting.
Any individual listed above is required to report abuse if they have reasonable suspicion or has reason to believe that abuse or neglect has occurred. The threshold of “suspect” is extremely low. According to Penal Code Section 11166 “’reasonable suspicion’ means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect. ‘Reasonable suspicion’ does not require certainty that child abuse or neglect has occurred nor does it require a specific medical indication of child abuse or neglect; any ‘reasonable suspicion’ is sufficient.”
The professional is not expected to do a thorough investigation before referring the matter over the authorities, they are required to report when they have any reasonable suspicion of child abuse.
If a professional fails to report suspected child abuse they will be subject to both criminal and administrative discipline, EVEN IF no actual abuse occurs. Penal Code Section 11166(c) states in part that a “mandated reporter who fails to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect as required by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Moreover, it is a violation of professional ethics to fail to report the suspicion of child abuse if you are a mandated reporter. As such, when a mandatory fails to report suspected child abuse, they may be disciplined by the licensing Board/Agency.