This Is The Only State Where Police Are NOT Required To Report Child Abuse

November 17, 2017
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According to Ohio law, anyone who works with children, be it doctors, teachers or therapists is required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to either a children services agency or to the police.

However, police officers themselves are not included in the same instructed reporting laws in the state of Ohio only.

jfs.ohio.gov

But that could be about to change as a lawmaker in Columbus, Ohio has proposed a bill that would require the police to do so.

State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent, D-Columbus has said, “I was shocked and saddened to learn that Ohio was the only remaining state not to have law enforcement listed as mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect.”

Kent said the issue was brought to her attention after hearing about a family in Columbus with five children who were subjected to incidences of domestic violence. Despite the family being visited by police officers on numerous occasions, police officers didn’t refer the case to children services to check on the children’s welfare.

The children in question were repeatedly being exposed to violence in the household and officers did nothing about it.

Kent is a former teacher, so she would have had to report these kinds of situations as a mandated reporter and feels that the police should have to do the same. It is all about the health and welfare of a child surely.

She wants more professionals to be on the lookout for possible child abuse cases, and as police officers are a pillar of the Communities they should be the same as everyone else. “It’s really a chance to have an early warning,” she said.

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The proposed law will mean that officers would have to contact local children services agency if they either know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be neglected or faces a threat of it along with suspicions of child abuse.

House Bill 137 was passed unanimously by the Ohio House earlier this month and the bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

The Dayton Daily News conducted a series of articles in October and they found a lot of flaws in Ohio’s system for protecting children.

Some of their outcomes included incidences where children had died not long after being reunited with their birth parents. The deaths proved to be violent too. Other incidents were tied to a lack of oversight by child protection agencies who couldn’t cope with the number of cases they were being inundated with because of the opioid epidemic.

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Regardless of the current laws in place, a lot of the police departments have policies in place for officers to report child related suspicions to, whereas others do it out of their own intuition.

Clark County Deputy Director for Children Services, Pamela Meermans said that the proposed law closes the loop of communication.

She said that anyone who suspects anything untoward with a child should contact children services directly or through the police. “If you are currently a mandated reporter, you have a choice. Law enforcement then, in turn, needs to inform children services. That is not universally done in all jurisdictions,” she added.

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