On Friday, April 27, 2012 Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill requiring anyone who suspects a case of child sexual abuse to report it to law enforcement. The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law will take effect on October 1, 2012, giving Florida the harshest mandatory requirements for reporting sexual abuse in the nation. Specifically, this bill requires that all colleges and universities adhere to stringent reporting criteria for all sex abuse violations that have taken place on their campuses.
Violations wherein a teacher, administrator, coach or any other school employee who does not “willfully or knowingly” report suspected abuse could result in serious fines and lead to criminal charges. Prior to this law, only a parent or caregiver was required to report suspected abuse. This led to an extraordinarily high number of unreported incidents and created a silence within our culture regarding sexual abuse of children. In addition, to a mandatory obligation to report any suspicion of child sexual abuse, criminal charges have also been increased from misdemeanor to third degree felony charges.
Department of Children and Families (DCF) will conduct time sensitive investigations of anyone who neglects to report child abuse. Under the new law, the State Attorney’s office will now review the actions of all school board employees, who employ anyone who is suspected of withholding information regarding a victim of child sexual abuse. Hopefully, the addition of increased fines, which can be up to $1,000,000 for any public college or university whose administration fails to report child abuse, is a step in the right direction for eradicating child sexual abuse at schools or on college campuses, and in the world at large.
In America today, it is estimated that there are 60 to 80 million survivors of sexual abuse. Many of these cases have taken place on college campuses and at public and private schools for elementary, middle, and high school aged children. Anyone who does not report abuse, under this new legislation could face up to 15 years in prison and a potential fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
In total, 4 new bills were signed into law and $1.5 million dollars for the relocation of sexual violence victims was set aside. New, steeper penalties for those involved in child prostitution were allocated for unreported crimes. While, funding for 47 additional staff members at the Department of Children and Families was authorized.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse, contact the offices of Gerson & Schwartz today, so we can help report this abuse with you. Our law firm has worked passionately on child sexual abuse cases for over 40 years in the Miami Dade County are, as well as throughout the state of Florida. We continue to pursue justice for victims through our connections and close relationships with crime victim organizations to aid families in abusive situations. our mission is to represent children and families, regardless of whether or not they are filing a law suit. At Gerson & Schwartz, we are dedicated lawyers, who professionally and continually recover damages for families who cannot fight for themselves.
We will continue our work in protecting the most innocent victims, our nation’s children, from sexual violence and abuse.
Call our offices today (305)371-6000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org