50% of authority figures do not report child abuse

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Following the Penn State child abuse scandal many are outraged school officials did not report the abuse to authorities. But what's even more disturbing, according to a recent report from the National Child Protection Training Center, this is not an isolated incident.

"The concern is that these calls are not being made," said Susie Cover, who is the Executive Director with the Northeast Arkansas Children's Advocacy Center in Jonesboro.

A recent report, found less than 50 percent of those required to report child abuse cases actually do so when faced with a situation. "Half of the kids that actually go and talk to someone or someone gets an idea that something might be going on, they are never addressed because the mandated reporter does not make the call," said Cover.

Cover says many might not realize they're mandated reporters. "The best way to understand it is anyone who in the process of your work day comes in contact with children. Then you are a mandated reporter," said Cover.

In Pennsylvania, the law only requires to employees to report the child maltreatment to upper management.

Craighead County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington says in Arkansas, the laws have tightened-up over the past couple of years.

"It's not a judgement call of the supervisor saying we should call or not call. This person, if they suspect child maltreatment,then they should call the 1-800 number," said Ellington and then let the authorities investigate.

Ellington says it's situations, like the Penn State scandal, that brought the change. "We would rather have 30 unfounded claims and catch the ones that are out there, than have someone doing the filtering before they call the number," said Ellington.

"The thing that may come from this is a lot of education, and a lot of people are going to re-check their status and make sure they are doing the right thing," said Cover.

If you are charged with failing to report it's a class A misdemeanor. Cover says no matter who you are if you suspect or know a child is being abused you need to call the child abuse hotline at 1-800-482-5964. For more information, just go to www.neacac.net

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