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Health News Florida

Proposal Requiring Child And Animal Abuse Investigators To Work Together Heads To Senate Floor

 In this April 23, 2019, file photo, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, debates a bill in Tallahassee, Fla. Book, known as a champion for child sexual abuse victims, asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, to authorize a state investigation into the circumstances of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's freedom to leave jail on work release.
In this April 23, 2019, file photo, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, debates a bill in Tallahassee, Fla. Book, known as a champion for child sexual abuse victims, asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, to authorize a state investigation into the circumstances of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's freedom to leave jail on work release.
 In this April 23, 2019, file photo, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, debates a bill in Tallahassee, Fla. Book, known as a champion for child sexual abuse victims, asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, to authorize a state investigation into the circumstances of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's freedom to leave jail on work release.
Credit Phil Sears / AP Photo
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In this April 23, 2019, file photo, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, debates a bill in Tallahassee, Fla. Book, known as a champion for child sexual abuse victims, asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, to authorize a state investigation into the circumstances of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's freedom to leave jail on work release.

Different forms of abuse often happen under the same roof. Now, a senate committee is backing a proposal to require child and animal abuse agencies to work together. Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) is one of its supporters. She says cross-reporting between agencies will help prevent child abuse.

Sen. Book has long been an advocate of abused children.

“This is an area that I have focused on most of my adult life. As a child advocate, a former classroom teacher and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse myself," Book says while speaking in support of Senate Bill 7000.

Under the proposal, any child protective investigator who goes to a home and suspects animal abuse would report it to animal control. Also, any animal control officer who suspects child abuse would report it to the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“We know that there is a huge correlation between child sexual abuse and animal abuse and so training each one—animal control workers and DCF workers to be able to cross-report and identify so that we can really ensure that children and our furry friends are kept safe," Book says.

Kate MacFall is Florida State Director of the Humane Society. She spoke in support of the bill during a Senate committee meeting.

“The sexual abuse of animals is the number one predictor for the sexual abuse of children," MacFall says.

MacFall also supports a portion of the bill that increases the penalty for people who sexually abuse animals. Right now, it’s a misdemeanor, but under the proposal it would be a third degree felony. She says felonies for bestiality are enforced in 22 other states.

“Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and many more. Unfortunately, it’s much more common than most people would believe or care to think about," MacFall says.

The proposal passed its last committee stop and is heading to the Senate floor. There is no House version.

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