CHANGES IN CHILD ABUSE REPORTING LAWS
The child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University has caused other states to revisit their laws that aim to protect children from abuse.
In Wisconsin, several changes to the mandatory-abuse reporting laws have taken place within the last month in order to provide more protection to children subject to abuse. One of the significant changes is that “school employees” are now mandatory reporters for child abuse. Previously, there were about 29 other occupations who were mandatory reporters including social workers, physicians, nurses, school teachers, administrators, and counselors.
The requirement to report the abuse is mandatory if the person has reasonable cause to suspect the abuse or if the person has reason to believe the child has been threatened with abuse or neglect. There are some exceptions to the mandatory reporting including some exceptions for clergymen and parents. In addition, those who report in good faith as required may not be discharged from employment, or otherwise disciplined or discriminated against with respect to such report.
As a “court appointed special advocate” for a child, lawyers are required to report the suspected child abuse. Penalties for failure to report the abuse is a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months or both. A civil case under tort law is also available for the victim and the family.
This article is just a general overview of the law with regard to child abuse reporting, as this area of the law is complicated and contains many caveats and exceptions. If you have any questions contact Greg Babcock at the Green Bay, Wisconsin law firm Wanezek & Jaekels. Attorney Greg Babcock practices in the area of family law. Call or email him for a consultation.