Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mandated reporting of suspicion

Education Week reports about the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal:
The sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, which this month led to the firing of storied football coach Joe Paterno and other prominent university officials who did not report the alleged crimes to law enforcement, raises fresh questions about the legal and moral responsibilities of K-12 personnel who are more likely to be in a position to detect physical or sexual abuse of a child.

Experts say most states have clear laws requiring K-12 teachers and other school employees to swiftly and directly report suspicions of abuse to police or child-protection authorities, but there are complex reasons why these so-called “mandatory reporters” may fail to take action.
“I think one of the major impediments to people reporting their suspicions is that they think they have to have more evidence that abuse is occurring,” said Robert J. Shoop, the director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. and the author of several books on sex abuse and sexual misconduct. “But that’s not the case with these laws. If you think abuse could be happening, that’s when you call the professionals.”

The “mandatory reporting” laws in most states spell out that anyone employed in schools is personally responsible for notifying police or child-protection service agencies if they suspect child abuse, according to a recent review of state laws by the Associated Press. Failure to report abuse suspicions have led to teachers being fired, losing their licenses, or being convicted of a crime, although enforcement actions against school personnel are relatively rare.
Traditional British and American law does not require citizens to report crimes that they witness. We are not a nation of snitches. If your neighbor is illegally smoking dope, you do not have to say a word.

Most people are happy reporting a crime against a child, because the child is usually unable to speak up for himself. But the mandatory reporting laws go way beyond that. They require reporting suspicions.

There was a case several years ago of a hospital that noticed some unusual bruises in a child, and the physician did not know what to make of it. He notified the hospital managers, and they called in an expert from the local university. They told the parents that they were getting a second opinion, and the university expert said that there was no sign of abuse. The physician was later prosecuted and convicted for failing to report his suspicions. The mere fact that he consulted an expert was the proof that he had suspicions.

According to the grand jury report, Penn State learned about accusation against Sandusky in 1998. University official arranged for a confrontation, pressured him into admitting inappropriate behavior, and turned the case over to the police. When the DA decided that there was insufficient evidence of a crime, the university fired him anyway.

Penn State officials have been charged with a crime for not reporting a similar allegation against Sandusky in 2002. The entire case hinges on the memory and credibility of McQueary, but now he has changed his story and says that he reported it to the police. There is no physical or other hard evidence of abuse. According to Sandusky, the child involved will testify that McQueary is lying about what he claimed to have seen.

Meanwhile, the legal, financial, spiritual, and emotional toll of false accusations is enormous. Families are unjustly busted up every day from overzealous CPS workers. The blog Legally Kidnapped has news everyday of the damages causes by CPS.

The mandatory reporting law is a direct attack on the autonomy of the American family. Many parents have practices that provoke the disapproval of others. All it takes is one anonymous call to CPS, and a govt social worker will knock on the door and threaten to put the kids in foster care. There is no due process. The upshot is that know-nothing social workers are redefining how American children are to be reared, and this is a change for the worse.

And it is only going to get worse, as the Democrats want to expand the mandatory reporting. The LA Times reports:
Outrage over the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal has led to calls for federal legislation that would require anyone witnessing child abuse to report it to law enforcement or a child protection agency.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced plans Wednesday to introduce the Child Protection Act, which would compel states to enact child-abuse reporting laws or risk losing some federal aid. States would set the penalties for people who fail to report abuse.

A similar bill, the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act, was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). ...

Thirty-two states do not require all adults to report suspected child abuse or neglect, according to Casey's office. Instead, many states have in place a requirement that people with regular contact with children, such as healthcare providers and teachers, must report child abuse. ...

A Penn State assistant football coach who, according to a grand jury report, saw Sandusky raping a boy in the football team’s showers has been widely criticized for not reporting the incident directly to police. He did report it to the university. In an email obtained by the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, the assistant coach, Mike McQueary, said that he did discuss the incident with police and stopped the assault.
I would not be surprised if this Penn State witch-hunt concludes by the state paying millions of dollars in bogus lawsuits, and no one found guilty of anything. Plus a horrible new anti-family law.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep comments short. Long comments will be deleted.