Senate Bill No. 161
(By Senators Foster, Palumbo, Klempa, Fanning, Unger, Kessler (Mr. President), Jenkins, Browning, Kirkendoll, Wills, Yost, Stollings and McCabe)
[Introduced January 12, 2012; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §49-6A-2 and §49-6A-8 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to increasing the persons mandated to report abuse and neglect of children; and increasing the criminal penalties for failure to report.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §49-6A-2 and §49-6A-8 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.
§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 (a) A person who 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
(b) If 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 the 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 jail not more than ten days six months or fined not more than $100 $1,000, or both.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require all persons to report abuse and neglect of children and to increase the penalties for those who fail to report.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.