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Child Abuse -

       In the State of California it is illegal to inflict upon a child any cruel corporal punishment or an injury that results in a traumatic condition.


       Any person who, under conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, causes or permits any child to suffer, or having care of custody of any child, permits the child to beplaced in a situation where his or her health is endangered, can be found guilty of felony child endangerment. The punishment can be up to two, four, or six years in the state prison.

Corporal Punishment

       This can be an area of great confusion since some corporal punishment is permitted in California. For example, under California law, a parent has the right to reasonably discipline a child by physical punishment and may administer reasonable punishment without being liable for battery. In order to be considered disciplinary the punishment must be necessary (i.e. it must be in response to the child's negative behavior and it must be reasonable discipline, not excessive. The use of corporal punishment by public schoolteachers in California was made illegal on January 1, 1987.

Child Abuse

       Child abuse is not limited to physical abuse, although that is often the case. It also includes excessive corporal punishment, neglect, sexual abuse,emotional abuse and child endangerment. There are numerous mandatory reporting requirements that are imposed on teachers, day care employees, medical providers, clergy and counselors.

Records and Reports

       The state of California maintains a record of the various reports of child abuse and the reports are divided intothree different categories:

(1) "Unfounded Report",if the investigator believes the report was false, inherently improbable or involves an accidental injury;
(2) "Substantiated Report", if the investigator believes that it is likely to be child abuse or neglect; and
(3) "Inconclusive Report", if the investigator believes the report is inconclusive and there is insufficient evidence either way.

Child Abuse Central Index (CACI)

       The Attorney General maintains a Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) based on the reports from police, sheriff's, county welfare and probation departments. The index is made available to these agencies as well as used fro screening applicants for licensing and employment in child care facilities and foster homes.
       An individual can find out the status of their name in the CACI by completing a form that is available at the web site maintained by the Office of the Attorney General.

Reported Statistics

       In 2001 there were 128,251 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect, 41,058 children removed from their homes and 30 confirmed deaths from abuse or neglect. It is estimated that 5,100 of the abused children will take part in violent crime and become violent criminals as adults as a result of the abuse and neglect they have experienced.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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