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New Mexico

January 30, 2009

Senate Bill 22: Requires Families to be Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters

Author:
Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia

Summary:
An act relating to child abuse; requiring family members to report child abuse or neglect; amending a section of the abuse and neglect act; providing penalties.

This bill would require family members (including siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and spouses) to report suspected child abuse. The penalty for not reporting is a fourth-degree felony.

Status:

1/16/2009(Senate) Prefiled
1/20/2009(Senate) Introduced
1/20/2009(Senate) Senate Judiciary Committee—Senate Public Affairs Committee
1/29/2009(Senate) Hearing in the Public Affairs Committee, Room 321 at 2:30 p.m. (Senator Dede Feldman, Chairman)

HSLDA’s Position:
HSLDA is opposed to this bill.

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.

Background:
American law recognizes certain legal “privileges” that keep a person from being forced to testify in a court case. The best known is the attorney-client privilege, which prohibits an attorney from disclosing the confidences of a client. Attorneys who reveal the secrets of their clients can and should be disbarred. At common law, there were a number of other privileges, including the husband-wife privilege, the doctor-patient privilege, the priest-penitent privilege, and so forth. These privileges are slowly being picked away at, as mandatory reporting is now being inflicted on most doctors, pastors, and now spouses.

Unfortunately, New Mexico is demanding that families (including spouses), report any suspicions of abuse. This has very serious consequences, since it makes it very dangerous for families to confide in each other when they are struggling with the challenges of child rearing. Child abuse is a sin, and parents desperately need wise and Godly counsel from those who can help them repent and do better. A law that turns every family member into a mandatory child abuse reporter cuts parents from the help they most need.

HSLDA believes that families should be free to help parents in need without necessarily reporting them to the authorities, yet must also be free to report suspected abuse to protect the abused. By working together, homeschoolers and other citizens can make the child abuse laws work better for everyone.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History