California Child Protection Policies

California is a state with robust policies and public institutions in place to protect children. The state regularly expands these protections as well. In 2023, a bill known as the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (CAADCA) was created to implement ground-breaking protections for children online. However, the bill is currently being challenged as a violation of the First Amendment, and it may be struck down.

CAADCA follows another recent bill, AB506, which created a new requirement for more thorough background checks for organizations that work with children. These background checks are known in the state as Live Scan and include fingerprinting and checking against California’s criminal database. These are just a few of the newer policies that California has put in place in addition to a number of other policies and services.

Mandatory Reporting

One of the most important child protection laws in California is mandatory reporting. This is a requirement for professionals in certain jobs to report any signs of neglect or child abuse to the authorities. This law applies largely to those whose work involves direct and close interaction with children in a way that would create the opportunity to see such signs.

Teachers, healthcare workers, and social workers are some of the groups that the mandatory reporting law applies to. There are also training programs designed to help these professionals understand and recognize the signs of abuse.

If signs of neglect and child abuse are reported to the authorities, they will likely be investigated. There are a number of laws in place to address a variety of potential forms of abuse. If applicable, the perpetrator could be charged with one or more crimes.

Preventative Institutions and Programs

There are a number of institutions that are designed to help children and prevent their exposure to abuse. Child Welfare Services (CWS) exists to preserve families in a way that ensures children’s safety, but it can intervene if necessary. Additionally, the foster care system provides support and temporary care for those who are no longer safe in their homes.

The state of California has many programs designed to prevent abuse before it begins. There are several child abuse prevention programs throughout the state that are focused on education, community outreach, and support. These programs are intended to identify the risks of child abuse and attempt to correct them before abuse can start.

Another important preventative measure is the sex offender registry. Strict laws require sex offenders to register, and there are stiff penalties if they fail to adhere to the rules. This registry ensures that communities can be alert and aware of the risk that any convicted sex offenders could pose to children, particularly with regard to child sexual abuse.

Care for Victims of Child Abuse

The state also has implemented a number of measures that are designed to care for and help children who are victims of abuse. Child advocacy centers exist throughout the state and provide a variety of different services, from forensic interviews to counseling and support. These centers have comprehensive offerings that can help bring those accountable to justice and give support to children so they can begin the process of healing.

There are also a variety of protections for victims of abuse as it relates to the legal process, including court procedures that attempt to prevent the process from being too traumatic for victims.

What Can Individuals and Institutions Do to Prevent Child Abuse?

It’s important to remember that while California has extensive and impactful laws regarding issues of child protection, child abuse still happens. Institutions should be taking appropriate measures aimed at prevention rather than relying on the laws, regulations, and processes the government has implemented. This is especially true for institutions that work directly with children, such as schools and daycare facilities.

Often, past victims of abuse who come forward have been instrumental in preventing future instances of similar abuse. Many of the California policy protections now in place, as well as institutional policies, have been reactions to events that occurred in the past. By learning how those instances of child abuse could have been prevented, institutions have the tools to prevent future cases.

Many preventative measures were put in place because of things learned during the civil claim process. As victims pursue justice against the institutions that could have done more to protect them, they also pave the way for prevention.

If you’ve been a victim of child sexual abuse, you may be able to play a similar role in helping prevent future abuse while pursuing justice. When you feel comfortable with seeking legal action, your civil claim could allow you to obtain the compensation you’re owed and inspire policy and protocol change by holding negligent institutions accountable.

The rights of child sexual abuse victims should remain intact no matter how long ago the abuse was. If you’ve experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher, clergy member, or anyone else with institutional authority, you can come forward and seek legal recourse when you’re ready. Contact the DeMarco Law Firm when you are ready to discuss your case.