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New Child Abuse Reporting Law Goes Into Effect Today
Legislation also increases criminal penalties and fines for those who knowingly fail to report child abuse
TALLAHASSEE—A new law providing better protection for children across Florida goes into effect today. The legislation, signed by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year, requires any individual who suspects that a child has been abused by any person to report that to the Florida Abuse Hotline.
“This law will help ensure all allegations of a child being harmed are immediately investigated by the appropriate agency,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. “Reporting child abuse is our moral and legal obligation. This law increases penalties for those who know about abuse but continue to leave children in danger.”
Any allegations a child was abused or neglected by a caregiver will be investigated by the Department of Children and Families, while allegations of child abuse by someone other than a caregiver will be accepted at the Hotline and immediately electronically transferred to the appropriate local law enforcement agency where the child lives.
The new law also includes better tracking of abuse reports at public schools and colleges, improved training of teachers on recognizing the signs of abuse is and how to report it, and financial relocation assistance for victims of sexual crimes. Penalties for those who suspect a child is being abused but fail to report it have been increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. Financial penalties also have increased.
Additionally, the law includes an improved online abuse reporting system and allows our department to study other options for reporting abuse, such as text messaging or web-based chat. Currently, those who are reporting child abuse can report over the phone, including a TDD line, by FAX or through our website at www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/abuse-hotline.
Last year, our child protective investigators across the state investigated more than 184,000 cases of alleged abuse and neglect involving about 300,000 children. That’s an average of more than 500 child abuse investigations every day.
If you suspect or know of any child who is being harmed, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873. If you see a child in immediate danger, call 911.