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Mandated Reporter FAQ

Q: What is a Mandated Reporter for child abuse?

Mandated reporters are individuals who are required by California law to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect that they become aware of in the course and scope of their employment or in their professional capacity.

Q: Are there different categories of Mandated Reporters?

There are two categories of mandated reporters at Stanford.

The first category of mandated reporters has broader reporting obligations. Historically, mandated reporters under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act have been people who supervise children, police officers, many people who hold or are pursuing professional licenses such as physicians, and other people thought to be in a special position of trust or position to learn of child abuse or neglect. Some University employees fall within this category of mandated reporters under the Act. Examples include: police officers, medical personnel, daycare workers, and athletic coaches. These employees are required to report any known or suspected child abuse or neglect that they become aware of in the course and scope of their employment or in their professional capacity, regardless of where it occurs.

The second category of mandated reporters has narrower reporting obligations. As of January 1, 2013, the definition of mandated reporters expanded to include all Stanford employees who come into regular contact with minors, or who supervise someone who does. Most of Stanford’s mandated reporters fall within this category. Examples include: faculty, academic staff, graduate students and others who instruct minors or host minor interns; camp counselors, residential advisors; residence deans. These individuals have more limited reporting obligations. Employees in this category are required to report known or reasonably suspected abuse that occurs on campus or at an official Stanford sponsored program or activity.

The full list of mandated reporters is provided for by law in California Penal Code §11165.7(a).

Q: Who needs to sign the Mandated Reporter Acknowledgement form?

All mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect must sign the acknowledgement form. There are 44 categories of mandated reporters. If you fall into one of these categories, California law makes you a mandated reporter and obligates Stanford to collect your signature on the online form. Even if you do not have regular contact with minors, you may still be a mandated reporter if you are on the list; see the California Penal Code §11165.7(a). A mandated reporter could be a:

  • Work-study student
  • Graduate student
  • Postdoctoral scholar
  • Staff member
  • Faculty member
  • Paid student
  • Other individual paid by Stanford

Unpaid volunteers, including undergraduate student volunteers, are not considered mandated reporters and do NOT have to sign the online form.  Stanford also is not responsible to collect signatures of mandated reporters who are not Stanford employees, such as employees of a summer camp run by a third party.

Q: Supervisors of a mandated reporter must also sign the form. Who is the supervisor of a grad student?

For graduate students, it would be the Advisor, or it could be the Director of the program, or the faculty member in charge of the class or lab.

Q: What do I do if I suspect that a child has been abused?

Upon gaining knowledge of or reasonably suspecting child abuse or neglect, the mandated reporter must immediately or as soon as practicably possible call the child welfare authorities or the police to make a report. If you are unsure that what you suspect indicates abuse or neglect, you should call the child welfare authorities to ask.

After calling the authorities, you are encouraged to tell your supervisor and the Stanford Compliance Hotline at 650-721-2667 or online, using the Helpline Request Form.

  • Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Services Child Abuse and Neglect Center at 650-493-1186.
  • Stanford University Department of Public Safety at 650-723-9633 during business hours. Call 650-329-2413 after hours and on weekends or 911 in case of an emergency.
  • After calling, mandated reporters must follow up with a written report to the authority called within 36 hours.
  • After calling the authorities, you are encouraged to tell your supervisor and the Stanford Compliance Hotline at 650-721-2667 or online, using the Helpline Request Form.

Please note that mandated reporters have a personal legal obligation to report abuse or neglect to the authorities. Internal reporting is encouraged, but does not satisfy this legal obligation.

Q: I am in a job where I don’t interact with children. Do I still have to sign the acknowledgement form?

The law classifies some people as mandated reporters even though they may not have contact with children. Look at the list of mandated reporters in California Penal Code §11165.7(a). If you are not a mandated reporter as described by the law, then you do not have to sign the acknowledgement. However, if you mistakenly believe that you are not a mandated reporter and you fail to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect, you may be held criminally and civilly responsible for that failure.

Q: What if I don’t want to sign the form?

Whether you sign the acknowledgement form or not, if the law classifies you as a mandated reporter, you are a mandated reporter. Stanford University is obligated by law to collect the acknowledgement from you and expects you to do your part in helping it comply with the law. All mandated reporters have the obligation to report child abuse or neglect, regardless of whether they have signed the acknowledgement form.

Q: Is there a legal penalty for NOT reporting?

Mandated reporters are immune from criminal or civil liability for good faith reports. Failure to report is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If willful failure to report abuse or neglect results in death or great bodily injury, the penalty increases to up to one year in jail or up to $5,000. There may also be civil liability.

Q: How do I complete the form?

The University system of record is through STARS in Axess. Having staff and faculty sign on one system helps us comply with the law. To sign the form in STARS, log in to Axess, click on the STARS (Training) tab, search catalog for “Mandated Reporter,” and enroll.

Q: I'm not a mandated reporter, but I know of or suspect child abuse or neglect. Should I report it to the authorities?

Yes.

Q: I still have a question unique to my situation. Who can I contact?

The key websites listed above may answer questions related to your particular situation.

 Members of the Stanford community are encouraged to tell their supervisor and the Stanford Compliance Helpline at 650-721-2667 or by using the online Helpline Request Form about known or suspected abuse, after they call the authorities to make an official report.

  • For questions about whether something you know or suspect is reportable, please call the child welfare authorities at 650-493-1186.
  • For questions about the law, the Stanford community can call Nancy Heafey, Senior University Counsel, in the Office of General Counsel at 650-723-3378.
  • Members of the Stanford community are encouraged to tell their supervisor and the Stanford Compliance Helpline at 650-721-2667 or by using the online Helpline Request Form about known or suspected abuse, after they call the authorities to make an official report.