Washington, D.C. – As children across the country continue to suffer from horrific abuse, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-7). have introduced the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act (SPEAK Up Act). The bill would require states to implement a consistent standard for child abuse reporting by requiring those with responsibility over children, such as medical professionals, teachers and coaches, to report suspected child abuse and neglect directly to state authorities. Casey’s bill was first introduced in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The legislation would tie states’ child abuse prevention funding to the adoption of new standards to better protect abuse victims, and require individuals to report directly to the appropriate state authorities.
“We must do everything we can to protect children from abuse and neglect,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation targets a loophole that would allow abusers to get away with their crimes and emphasizes the responsibility of all adults to protect children from abuse and neglect.”
“It’s past time we do more to prevent child abuse and neglect,” Congresswoman Wild said. “In Pennsylvania – and across the country – we’ve seen what happens when abuse is not properly reported. This bill is an important step to stopping abusers and holding all adults responsible for alerting the authorities before it’s too late.”
More on the legislation:
The Speak Up Act would require all states to pass and enforce a law requiring adults with a professional responsibility to children to report instances of known or suspected child abuse in order for states to receive funding through the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the federal statute focused on child abuse and neglect prevention and response. The Speak Up Act also requires that these mandated reporters give their reports directly to the state authorities responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect.
This legislation closes a loophole in existing law that can leave children in danger because their abuser is from another state, or because the child was visiting another state when he or she was abused. Under this bill, it is clear that the state where the incident occurred has the obligation to investigate that incident, and that other states must help out if necessary.
The bill will also:
- Provide support to states to carry out educational campaigns and training to inform individuals about what constitutes child abuse and neglect, and promote greater responsibility;
- Promotes new approaches and techniques to improve reporting; and
- Evaluate states’ progress on mandatory reporting.