Author of Missouri child abuse statute says it should be changed
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Author of Missouri child abuse statute says it should be changed

Date: November 16, 2011
By: Rebecca Woolf
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: 
A former Missouri Senator says his child abuse law should be changed.
RunTime:  0:51
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Thirty-five years ago, Kenny Rothman co-sponsored Missouri's child abuse law which requires anyone working with children to immediately report child abuse.

But like Pennsylvania, that law requires that some professionals like teachers, only have to report to their supervisors ... not the Department of Social Services.

Rothman, now a St. Louis county attorney, says if he could do it over, he would not have included that exemption.

Actuality:  ROTH.WAV
Run Time:  00:13
Description: "The administration could cover it up like it was done in Pennsylvania, or it could take too long because administrations have a tendency to be bulky and cumbersome."

A staff attorney from the Missouri State Teachers Association says he does not think a change is necessary and that the system works well with teachers reporting abuse to principals.

From the state Capitol, I'm Rebecca Woolf.

Intro: 
Missouri lesislators have made no plans to strengthen the state's child abuse laws.
RunTime:  0:46
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Penn State's scandal has shed light on Missouri's child abuse law ... which is similar to Pennsylvania.

But there has been no talk of change in the Missouri statehouse.

Currently, teachers and medical professionals are only required to report abuse to their superior.

The executive director of Missouri Kids First says this may be the best system for abuse in schools.

Actuality:  OSTRA7.WAV
Run Time:  00:09
Description: "School administrators may have more information about a family that may be pertinent to a particular case."

Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan says school and hospital staff should be required to go straight to law enforcement.

But he says he has not heard of plans to change the state's abuse law during the upcoming legislative session.

From the state Capitol, I'm Rebecca Woolf.

Intro: 
Missouri's Senate Minority Leader says child abuse should be reported straight to authorities.
RunTime:  0:45
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Currently,  Missouri school and hospital staff are only required to report abuse to their superiors ... not to authorities.

Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan says that does not address the seriousness of child abuse.

Actuality:  CALL.WAV
Run Time:  00:06
Description: "Certainly I guess my view would be that if people see something wrong, they should tell law enforcement."

But the executive director of Missouri Kids First says telling superiors instead of law enforcement may be a better system for school staff because the administration might know important information about the family.

Callahan says there are no plans yet to discuss changing the law in the upcoming legislative session.

Missouri's law is simliar to that of Pennsylvania ... where there was a recent child abuse scandal.

From the state Capitol, I'm Rebecca Woolf.

Intro: 
A former Missouri House speaker says if he could change the child abuse law he sponsored, he would.
RunTime:  0:46
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Thirty-five years ago, Kenny Rothman, now a St. Louis county attorney, co-sponsored Missouri's child abuse law.

The law requires anyone working with children to report child abuse.

But like Pennsylvania's law, it only requires that some professionals like teachers report to their superiors ... not to law enforcement or the Department of Social Services.

Rothman says if he could go back and change that, he would.

Actuality:  ROTH2.WAV
Run Time:  00:03
Description: "I would support a change in it to make it mandatory on everybody."

Rothman says the system would be more effective if everyone reported directly to social services.

A staff attorney from the Missouri State Teachers Association says he does not think a change is necessary and that the system works well with teachers reporting abuse to principals.

From the state Capitol, I'm Rebecca Woolf.

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