A new law that went into effect last month changes the child abuse reporting requirements for public school employees, and maybe this will encourage people to report suspected child abuse and possibly save a life.
All school employees, faculty and staff who suspect child abuse are required to report suspected abuse to law enforcement officers and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. What's really new is that law enforcement is required to keep the name of the employee who reports the abuse confidential.
Oklahoma law already requires every person in Oklahoma who has reason to believe that a child under 18 that has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected to promptly make a report.
Failure to report child abuse is a misdemeanor offense. A person who reports suspected abuse in "good faith" is immune from criminal or civil liability.
Unfortunately, many teachers often are the people who discover child abuse. Knowing they can make a report without releasing the teacher's name might encourage them to come forward.
But, they should be coming forward anyway. It's been the law for quite some time and it requires EVERY person who suspects abuse to report it.
We should do it because we care. We should do it because children need our help. Please don't stand by and do nothing. Please report suspected child abuse.
What to do
If you suspect abuse or neglect, call your local Department of Human Services or the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-522-3511.
If the child is in imminent danger, contact 911 or local law enforcement.