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California Child Abuse Laws

California child abuse laws fall within the Penal Code, as they do in other states. The crime is broadly defined to include any type of cruelty inflicted on a child, such as mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, and neglect. Charges for physical child abuse often include assault and battery. Child abuse laws also include provisions requiring certain adults with access to children (such as teachers and doctors) to report signs of abuse.

Following is a general overview of California child abuse laws, mandatory reporting requirements, and penalties for failure to report. See Details on State Child Abuse Laws for more general information.

Code Section Penal Code §11164, et seq.
What Constitutes Abuse Sexual abuse or exploitation as listed by incident in 11165.1; neglect; willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment; any physical injury inflicted other than by accidental means
Mandatory Reporting Required By Health practitioner, child visitation monitors, fire fighter, animal control officer, humane society officer, district attorney, school employees, film processors, clergy, social workers, day care workers, police department employees, administrators or employees of public or private youth organizations or day camps
Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect Knows or reasonably suspects or observes child abuse
To Whom Reported To a child protective agency (police or sheriff's department, county probation department, or country welfare department)
Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting Misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a California attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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