Learn More About Efforts Taken to Protect Minors
Reporting child abuse is no longer only a moral duty. It can now result in a $1 million fine for people who knowingly fail to report abuse.
On Monday, a new state law went into effect that cracks down on reporting child abuse and assists child abuse victims. The law includes fines of up to $1 million for universities and a felony charge for individuals who fail to report abuse.
Gillespie said the push for the new legislation is credited largely to the abuse scandal at a university that broke in 2011.
She said the law change requires people to report suspected abuse by any person to a child. Previously, people could only make a report if the child’s parent or guardian was the suspected abuser.
“Child abuse is higher than we know,” she said. “It just hasn’t been reported.”
New Florida law for reporting suspected child abuse goes into effect
The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law ups the ante on the state’s previous reporting obligation, requiring anyone who suspects that a child has been abused to report those suspicions to the Florida Abuse Hotline; the reporting requirement formerly applied only when the alleged abuser was the parent or caregiver.
The law also increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for failing to report, with financial penalties increasing as well.
Florida’s new child abuse reporting law among nation’s toughest
Florida’s new child-abuse-reporting law is being called the nation’s toughest, and its penalties could have wide-ranging consequences for both universities and ordinary citizens. Colleges and universities that “knowingly and willfully” fail to report suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect — or prevent another person from doing so — now face fines of up to $1 million for each incident. And individuals who fail to report abuse and neglect face felony prosecution and fines up to $5,000.
It was just very important that we had a consistent law that made Florida the only true mandatory-reporting state in the nation — one where everyone is required to report,” said activist Lauren Book, a 27-year-old survivor of long-term childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her nanny. Founder of an advocacy and education organization called Lauren’s Kids, Book was a lead architect of the legislation, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year.
Setting the tone
A new Florida sexual abuse reporting law that has been called the toughest in the nation is holding universities and individuals financially and criminally liable for failure to report suspected abuse.
Under the law, which went into effect Oct. 1, colleges and universities that “knowingly and willfully” fail to report known or suspected child abuse or prevent another person from doing so will be slapped with a $1 million fine for each failure.
“We learned is we didn’t want to take a chance on [them],” said Ron Book, president of Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit that helped spearhead the legislation.