Book Seeks Enforcement of School Abuse Reporting Child-On-Child Incidents
A senate bill expanding who must report child-on-child sexual abuse and when, is drawing pushback over the inclusion of home schools. Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) wants greater reporting of suspected child abuse. SB 7000 seeks to increase penalties for educational and early childlhood providers who fail to report known and suspected abuse of minors to the Child Abuse Hotline. It includes a year suspension for those who do not report.
The bill also includes more state involvement in the gathering of statistics and information. Senator Lauren Book chairs the Senate Children Families and Elder Affairs committee and believes the bill will help fill the gaps in school safety data.
“I understand all too well the importance of ensuring that the reporting process is seamless,” She said.
Book was abused as a child and is a longtime advocate for sexual abuse survivors. Among her highlight’s of the bill is the cross-reporting that encompases persons suspected of animal abuse. This will require animal abuse investigators to report suspected child abuse and vice versa. Those convicted of animal abuse would be barred from working with children.
“We know that there’s a huge corelation betweeen child sexual abuse and animal abuse,” she said.
The proposal is drawing concerns over language related to homeschooling.
Brenda Dickinson of the Home Education Foundation says parents are already obliged to report as individuals and since parents are the ones who educate their child, they should not be considered as an educational institution.
“These children aren’t in an institution they’re home with their children. So if that’s the case why not include all parents to be reporting and not separate those who teach their children at home … just include all parents in the report,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson says she doesn’t condone child abuse “but I just don’t believe we should put home education programs in this legislation.”
The bill was approved by the Senate Rules Committee.
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