H. B. 4065
(By Delegate Pino)
[Introduced January 13, 2012; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §49-6A-1, §49-6A-2, §49-6A-8 and §49-6A-10 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to reporting suspected child abuse and neglect, increased penalties for failure to report, and educational programs for reporting and preventing child abuse or neglect.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §49-6A-1, §49-6A-2, §49-6A-8 and §49-6A-10 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6A. REPORTS OF CHILDREN SUSPECTED TO BE ABUSED OR NEGLECTED.
It is the purpose of this article, through the complete reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, to protect the best interests of the child, to offer protective services in order to prevent any further harm to the child or any other children living in the home, to stabilize the home environment, to preserve family life whenever possible, and to to promote adult responsibility for protecting children and to encourage cooperation among the states to prevent future incidents of child abuse and neglect and in dealing with the problems of child abuse and neglect.
§49-6A-2. Persons mandated to report suspected abuse and neglect.
When any medical, dental or mental health professional, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer, school teacher or other school personnel, social service worker, child care or foster care worker, emergency medical services personnel, peace officer or law-enforcement official, humane officer, member of the clergy, circuit court judge, family court judge, employee of the Division of Juvenile Services, or magistrate, youth camp administrator or counselor, employee or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children or commercial film or photographic print processor has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused or observes the child being subjected to conditions that are likely to result in abuse or neglect, such person shall immediately, and not more than forty-eight hours after suspecting this abuse, report the circumstances or cause a report to be made to the Department of Health and Human Resources. Provided, That In any case where the reporter believes that the child suffered serious physical abuse or sexual abuse or sexual assault, the reporter shall also immediately report, or cause a report to be made, to the State Police and any law-enforcement agency having jurisdiction to investigate the complaint. Provided, however, That Any person required to report under this article who is a member of the staff of a public or private institution, school, facility or agency shall immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency, or a designated agent thereof, who shall report or cause a report to be made. However, Nothing in this article is intended to prevent individuals from reporting on their own behalf.
In addition to those persons and officials specifically required to report situations involving suspected abuse or neglect of children, any other person may make a report if such person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected in a home or institution or observes the child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.
§49-6A-8. Failure to report; penalty.
Any person, official or institution required by this article to report a case involving a child known or suspected to be abused or neglected, or required by section five of this article to forward a copy of a report of serious injury, who knowingly fails to do so or knowingly prevents another person acting reasonably from doing so, shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in the county jail not more than ten days or fined not more than $100 $1,000, or both.
§49-6A-10. Educational programs.
Within available funding and as appropriate, the state department shall conduct educational programs with the staff of the state department, persons required to report, and the general public in order to In each fiscal year after June 30, 2012, it is the intent of the Legislature that, pursuant to appropriation in the budget bill for each respective year, §1 million of General Revenue Funds be transferred to the West Virginia Children’s Trust Fund established in section one, article six-c of this chapter for the purpose of preventing child abuse and neglect. These funds shall be used to support educational and training programs for persons required to report suspected abuse or neglect, and the general public, as well as evidence-based programs that reduce incidents of child maltreatment including child sexual abuse. Training for persons required to report and the general public shall include indicators of child abuse and neglect, tactics used by sexual abusers, how and when to make a report and protective factors that prevent abuse and neglect in order to promote adult responsibility for protecting children, encourage maximum reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect and to improve communication, cooperation and coordination among all agencies involved in the identification, prevention and treatment of the abuse and neglect of children.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to include youth camp administrators, camp counselors, employees and volunteers of entities that provide organized activities for children and commercial film or photographic print processors as mandated reporters of suspected child abuse; to increase criminal penalties for failing to report child abuse; and to provide funding for educational programs for reporting and preventing child abuse and neglect.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.