Senate Approves New Protections for Individuals Involved in Reporting Child Abuse
Washington—The Senate last night unanimously approved the Victims of Child Abuse Reauthorization Act, which includes an amendment from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to ensure that individuals involved in reporting suspected child abuse are shielded from liability related to those reports.
“More than 675,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect in the United States every year, and at least 1,750 children died from abuse in 2016,” Feinstein said. “We need to make it easier for adults to report suspected abuse in good faith without fear of being sued. Our amendment ensures medical personnel, educators and others who identify potential signs of abuse, whether reporting directly or contributing as a secondary reporter, can do so with appropriate immunity protections.”
For example, a doctor who provides a second opinion confirming suspected signs of child abuse would receive the same liability protection as someone who directly reports to authorities. This clarifies the law’s intent to provide immunity to all individuals involved in reporting.
A 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 19 percent of medical professionals surveyed said that concern about a lawsuit was the reason they chose not to get involved in a child abuse investigation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Children and Family Futures, Family Focused Treatment Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Children’s Alliance and the School Superintendents Association support this amendment.
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