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Mandated Reporting Guide

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), a federal legislation originally passed in 1974 identifies Mandated Reporters, provides federal definitions of child abuse and neglect, protects the confidentiality of the information in the report and provides mandated reporters immunity from civil and criminal liability when filing an accurate report.  

Who Are Mandated Reporters?

Mandated Reporters are professionals who work with or regularly come into contact with children have a crucial role in their protection. Mandated Reporters are designated as such because they are in a position to receive information that a child is or may be at risk, and to pass this information on to the agencies that can intervene to protect the child.

People who must make a Suspected Child Abuse Report include any child care custodian, health practitioner, employee of a child protective agency, child visitation monitor, firefighter, animal control officer, humane society officer, commercial film and photographic print processor, or clergy member “who has knowledge of or observes a child, in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, whom he or she knows or reasonably suspects has been  the victim of child abuse.”

If you are not a mandated reporter and want to learn about common indicators of abuse, please visit:

Asian boy in tube on playgorund
Dad and toddler daughter

What is Reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion means that there is an objective reason for a person to entertain a suspicion, based upon FACTS that could cause a reasonable person in a similar position, drawing, when appropriate, on their training and experience, to suspect abuse or neglect.

What are the Types of Abuse?

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse is the willful infliction of cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic physical condition. Corporal punishment, or physical discipline, is not in and of itself child abuse, and a non-injurious spanking to the buttocks is not prohibited by law.

However, when parents or caretakers use corporal punishment with sufficient force to cause internal or external injuries, this is child abuse.  When parents who are out of control use corporal punishment, or when instruments (including closed fists, belts, spoons, and cords) are used to hit children, the chances of causing injury are greatly increased.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse includes verbal threats, hostile actions or other mental sufferings inflicted by a parent or guardian that causes severe mental distress or fear to the child and include exposure to intimate partner violence/domestic violence.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse includes any sexual intention or action towards a child, or exposure to material of a sexual nature.

Sexual Exploitation (CSEC)

Commerical Sexual Exploitation of Children may include a person who knowingly promotes, aids, or assists, employs, persuades, induces, or coerces a child or a person responsible for a child’s welfare, who knowingly permits or encourages a child to engage in sex for money, live performance involving obscene sexual conduct including preparing, selling, or distributing pornographic material involving children.


Neglect includes the failure of a caregiver to provide for their child’s health and wellbeing. This can include, but is not limited to inadequate food, shelter or hygiene, inadequate supervision or abandonment, inadequate medical care or involving a child in illegal activities.

How do I make a report?

There are two steps to complete your mandated reporting responsibilities:

FIRST: You must make a report immediately or as soon as practically possible by telephone by calling:

24- hour Alameda County Child Abuse Hotline at 510-259-1800 ( or local law enforcement)

SECOND, within 36 hours of providing information concerning the incident, complete the Suspected Child Abuse Report and fax to 510-780-8620 or to the law enforcement agency that you made the report.


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