SACRAMENTO – Volunteers with youth service organizations often work closely with children, yet they are currently not required under California law to be trained on childhood sexual abuse prevention or report incidents of suspected abuse. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 506, which would require staff and volunteers to be mandatory reporters of childhood sexual abuse and mandate youth service organizations implement childhood sexual abuse prevention measures, passed the Assembly with unanimous, bipartisan support.
“We’ve heard far too many stories of serious childhood sexual abuse that have gone overlooked and unreported,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “This commonsense measure will ensure volunteers who are working closely with children know the warning signs to look for so they can catch incidents of abuse early on.”
Incidents of childhood sexual abuse within youth service organizations have sometimes carried on for years without being reported. The most notable example in recent years revealed more than 90,000 cases of childhood sexual abuse over decades after a lawsuit was filed in 2020 against the Boy Scouts of America. Similarly, over 200 claims of childhood sexual abuse were filed against the Boys and Girls Club, which is a nonprofit targeted to serving at-risk youth. The Boys and Girls Club failed in some cases to report abuse to law enforcement, and in some cases had failed to run background checks on the staff accused of abuse.
Despite many youth service organizations adopting best practices to prevent childhood sexual abuse, there isn’t a uniform standard, and policies vary from one to another. AB 506 would establish a baseline for prevention policies, including necessary background checks and mandated reporter training for employees and regular volunteers.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Latina Inequities. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, visit http://asm.ca.gov/gonzalez