Carefully Consider Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting Laws, Carter Says
In Georgia, while a technician who processes photographs is required to report suspected child abuse, a coach who isn’t a teacher is not.
In the wake of the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal, lawmakers around the country are re-examining statutes concerning who should be obligated by law to report suspected abuse to authorities.
Lawmakers should carefully consider how they craft reactionary laws, including the idea of requiring all adults to report abuse, said Emory Law’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center Executive Director Melissa Carter.
“It’s better public policy, and would be our advocacy principle as these proposals come forward, to make sure we’re designating the right people and also training them and having them be well-equipped to fulfill that duty of detecting child abuse and making those reports,” Carter said in a Nov. 29 interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Carter said Georgia is on par with most states, with laws that require those in professions who work with children to formally report abuse—such as physicians, nurses and teachers. There are more than a dozen categories of workers who legally must do so. Failing to report suspected abuse is a misdemeanor for those deemed “mandatory reporters.”
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