Mandated Reporter Bill

mandated reporter testimony

What does it mean to be a mandated reporter?

Mandated reporters are required to make a report of suspected abuse when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child or teenager is a victim of abuse.

Every state has in our nation has statutes identifying which professionals who have frequent contact with children and teens are required to report suspected maltreatment – but Ohio is the only state that doesn’t include police officers on its list of mandated reporters.

HB 137, as proposed by Representative Bernadette Kennedy would amend Section 2151.42 of the Ohio Revised Code to make municipal and county police officers mandatory reporters of abuse and neglect.

How does it feel to be a child or teen experiencing abuse or neglect?

Speaking as current and former foster youth, who serve as statewide leaders and community volunteers, we strongly support this bill.

We can testify from personal experience that physical abuse comes with a feeling of powerless. To experience abuse without intervention gives children and teens a scary message about their personal worth and what to expect from other people.

How would empowering police as mandated reporters help?

From a child welfare and emotional health standpoint, it is essential that police officers in our state become mandated reporters. This will make a life-changing – and even life-saving – difference for children and teens.

Sadly, throughout the state of Ohio, in every legislative district, there are children and teenagers who – right now at this very moment – are being physically abused.

As the PCSAO Factbook illustrates, the #1 reason for children and teens coming into foster care in Ohio is physical abuse.
Now, let’s think about the kids and teens who aren’t being counted or included in that number. What about them?  How long will they continue to experience abuse without intervention?
How can we work together to solve this problem?

We care about and deeply appreciate Ohio police officers – and that’s why we need them on our team to help push this forward. Our goal is to work together with them to develop a better safety net for vulnerable youth in Ohio.

We value our police, and recognize that some officers are taking the time to report abuse already. This next step forward is about “level setting” – getting everyone on the same page, in order to provide consistency in response to abused teens and children throughout our state.

The National Fraternal Order of Police and law enforcement officials support this bill.  Their support demonstrates that they view the responsibility of reporting abuse and neglect as central to their jobs, and the statistics bear out that this is true.  HB 137 will enhance the relationship between law enforcement and children’s services and further develop the safety net for vulnerable children.

Update on HB 137:

HB 137 was signed into law by Governor John Kasich.

Next steps include trauma-informed training, mentorship and support. This can include a focus on Best Practices; officers who do a good job at reporting abuse can serve as mentors and role models. Training can include reminding police officers to view teenagers not as perpetrators, but as victims of abuse.

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