State Senate passes bill that Senator Kennedy cosponsored to expand and clarify school officials required to report suspected child abuse by designating school coaches as mandated reporters.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, announced the New York State Senate passed legislation to increase the ranks of mandated reporters working in schools across the state. The legislation, which Senator Kennedy cosponsored, will expand and clarify the school officials required to report suspected child abuse by designating school coaches as mandated reporters.
Under current law, many school officials are specifically designated as mandated reporters, which means they must inform child-protection authorities when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. With this new legislation (S.4751a), school coaches, school athletic directors and other personnel who work with children in school sports will be added to the defined list of designated mandated reporters. By making these individuals mandated reporters, the state will ensure more people are looking out for children and relaying suspected abuse to the proper authorities.
“This important legislation will expand the ranks of mandated abuse reporters working in our schools,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “Coaches often become a person of trust for children, and youth may turn to their coaches to confide in them. Children may share problems they’re experiencing at home, at school or elsewhere. Understanding this, it is vital for the state to clarify the duties of coaches and school athletics personnel to report suspected child abuse and neglect. This is an important step in the right direction with our ongoing efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect across our state.”
In outlining the need for stronger laws against child abuse, Kennedy pointed to several jarring statistics. Across the country, about 700,000 children become victims of abuse or neglect each year. In New York State alone, about 80,000 children are abused or neglected every year. In 2011, an estimated 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect nationwide.
“One child abused is enough to spark outrage, but thousands and thousands of children – that is absolutely unacceptable and utterly appalling,” Kennedy said. “New York State needs strong laws to stop child abuse, and we must continue forward with our work to end abuse and neglect.”
Senator Kennedy has been pushing for comprehensive reform to improve Child Protective Services in Western New York and across the state. The legislation Kennedy is pursuing alongside Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes was prompted by several recent child fatalities that have raised serious alarms in Western New York.
“In Western New York, tragedy has prompted action. The deaths of Abdi Mohamud, Gage Seneca, Austin Smith, Eain Brooks and Mayouna Smith are heartbreaking and intolerable tragedies,” Kennedy said. “These tragic deaths should make all of us question whether our state and our counties are doing enough to keep our children safe.”
The reforms proposed by Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are gaining traction in the State Capitol. Their bills include:
- Ensuring Child Protective Services workers are properly trained for their demanding and challenging work.
- New accountability by strengthening involvement of mandated reporters in CPS investigations.
- Reforming excessive corporal punishment statutes. Ensuring stronger, deeper investigations when violent, extreme and senseless corporal punishment is reported.
- Reforming protocols for the interviewing of children in suspected abuse cases to ensure stronger, more accurate and more thorough investigations.
- Strengthening the statewide child abuse hotline to track repeat reports of abuse.
- Improving investigations and ensuring accountability by requiring photographic evidence be gathered during caseworker visits.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you should immediately call the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment at 1-800-342-3720. If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, you should call 911.
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the towns of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and nearly all of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.