Police must pass along child-abuse reports, state court rules

POLICEwho get a report from the public about suspected child abuse have a duty to notify a child welfare agency immediately, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court revived a lawsuit against a sheriff’s office that decided a complaint about bruises on a 2-year-old boy wasn’t serious enough to pass along. A month later, the boy was found unconscious at his father’s home and underwent brain surgery.

California law requires law enforcement and child welfare agencies to “immediately communicate” reports of child abuse to each other, Justice Ming Chin wrote in a unanimous ruling reinstating a lawsuit against San Bernardino County.

The ruling is important for “countless kids who haven’t been getting properly referred by thePOLICE to childPROTECTIVE services,” said Christopher Keane, a lawyer for the boy in the San Bernardino County case and his mother. He noted that organizations representing county and city governments had sided with San Bernardino County in arguing that police had no obligation to contact child welfare agencies about abuse reports.

Lawyers for San Bernardino County could not be reached for comment.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Police-must-pass-along-child-abuse-reports-state-6665857.php