Bill Could Simplify Child Abuse Reporting

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JEFFERSON CITY - Teachers who see instances of child abuse may have fewer hoops to jump through under a bill a house committee debated Wednesday.

The bill would require any school staff who witness a case of child abuse to report it directly to the state's Children's Division. Under current law, teachers report such cases to their immediate superiors. The bill also would require the Department of Public Safety to establish rules for examinations of juvenile rape victims.

Bill sponsor Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis, told the House Judiciary Committee her daughter once saw a child being beaten while she was a teacher at a St. Louis charter school. Her daughter informed her superiors, who did not forward the report to the Children's Division, at which point she made the report directly. Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, told KOMU 8 News incidents like the one Haefner described are not uncommon. He said letting teachers report such incidents directly is a good diea.

Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight told the committee the justice system relies on the eyes and ears of the public to uncover child abuse cases. He said unimpeded mandatory respones would go a long way toward helping to solve such cases.