THE CALIFORNIA CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
REPORTING ACT (CANRA)
Penal code 11164-11174
All fifty states have passed some form of legislation regarding mandatory reporting of child abuse and
neglect in response to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, federal legislation which
originally passed in 1974.
California has the
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA)
which is part of the Penal Code.
This act defines what is meant by the terms “abuse” and “neglect,” and
it requires certain categories of people who routinely work with children to report their suspicion that
abuse has occurred.
(The term "abuse" is at times used to encompass all types of child abuse and
CANRA designates the agencies that must receive and investigate reports of child abuse and neglect,
generally social services and law enforcement agencies.
State and local agencies are required to cross-
report and set up mechanisms for sharing information.
CANRA also states, “In any investigation of
suspected child abuse, 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."(Penal Code 11164.b)
The California Department of Justice maintains a statewide index called the Child Abuse Central Index
(CACI), which contains information from all reports of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and severe neglect
investigations in which the allegations were not determined to be unfounded.
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."
CANRA describes the process of submitting a report and sets penalties for mandated reporters who fail
It also protects the confidentiality of the information in the report and protects mandated
reporters from civil and criminal liability.
In addition, CANRA states that reporting duties are
"individual, and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit the reporting duties, and no person
making a report shall be subject to any sanction for making the report."
Agencies and schools may