November 15, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today is asking the Missouri General Assembly to consider requiring any person who witnesses sexual abuse of a child to immediately report the evidence to law enforcement. Currently under Missouri law, only members of certain professions, including teachers, physicians and clergy, or those with responsibility for the care of children, are required to report child sexual abuse.
“The recent incidents at Penn State highlight the disparities across the country in the manner in which state laws handle reporting sexual abuse of children,” Koster said.
“If a citizen walks in on the sexual abuse of a child, his duty as a citizen should be clear. We are all mandatory reporters. When it comes to protecting children, passing the buck should not be an option in our state.”
Koster said that as of April 2010, 18 states require all individuals to report the suspected abuse or neglect of children, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those states are: Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming had laws. Koster asks the Missouri legislature to consider adding Missouri to this list.
Koster urges individuals who suspect abuse of a child to report their concerns to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-3738.