Skepticism On Proposals to Bolster Child Abuse Reporting Laws


After the Penn State sex abuse charges, several states want to expand the list of who’s a mandated reporter — especially in places where coaches are not already included, NPR reports. Among the states with calls to expand required reporting or to stiffen penalties for those who fail to do so are California, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut, and Maryland. Former professional hockey player Sheldon Kennedy told a Senate committee he was sexually abused for years by a respected hockey coach, but adults around him who suspected never said a thing.

The proposed laws are being met with skepticism. Joette Katz, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, says. “Whether someone’s a mandated reporter or not, you walk in and you see somebody sexually molesting a 10-year-old, you don’t need a statute to tell you that that’s a crime.” She 30 percent of the calls to the agency’s hotline already come from people who aren’t mandated reporters. She worries that if everyone feels legally bound to report their suspicions, her case workers would get inundated with junk reports. Also, an investigation can be traumatic for children and their families. Robert Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it would be almost impossible to train every adult how to spot real child abuse cases.

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