Can I be sued for defamation of character for calling CPS on a parent if the child has made numerous claims of abuse but the parent denies it?

An 11 year old has told me her mother has hit her and denies her insulin and test strips for her diabetes. She has also told this same details to other family members as well. I texted the parent and told her she was lucky I haven’t called CPS yet, but if I ever see evidence of this being true, or if the claims persist, I will call CPS. The mother and her husband claim the child is a liar and told me if I ever call CPS I will be sued for defamation of character. If her claims continue, do I have a right to call CPS so they can investigate and will he be able to sue me for defamation of character?

Asked on August 30, 2011 California


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The truth is always a defense to any act of slander or libel, which is verbal versus written defamation, respectively. You every right to file a report if you suspect definitively that abuse is occurring; in most states, you would most likely prevail in any action she would even try to file because the public policy is to protect the children and to ensure they are in a safe environment. If you don't feel comfortable reporting her because you have no evidence, take the child to see her teacher or another trust adult who is mandated to report this matter and let CPS take over from there. Talk to the school nurse who would a) know whether the child is diabetic and b) whether insulin is being deprived.

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