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This bill would add every employee or volunteer in a private or religious organization that had contact with children to the list of those required to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. If you live in Salem, please come to the Education Committee public hearing! If you are not able to come, please contact the committee members and let them know of your opposition to this bill.
While anyone should report abuse or neglect if they know it is going on, House Bill 4016 could subject volunteers to a criminal Class A violation if they failed to make a report. Because volunteers won't want to be charged with a crime for failing to report something, many will report even when there is no reason to believe that abuse or neglect is actually going on. The resulting investigations will disrupt families and create an even larger numbers of false reports.
If House Bill 4016 passes, private and religious organizations would have a responsibility to train volunteers that they should report all suspected instances of abuse or neglect to avoid the potential criminal charge. This could cause many innocent families to be investigated for abuse or neglect when they have done nothing wrong.
Additionally, House Bill 4016 would allow school district officials to use "discretion" on whether they would have to notify parents of children 12 or over who may have been subjected to "abuse or sexual conduct" in the school. Under the bill a school district would be required to notify the parent when a child 11 or younger was subjected to "abuse or sexual conduct" in the school.
02/01/2012 (House) First reading. Referred to the desks of the Co-Speakers.
02/01/2012 (House) Referred to Education.
02/02/2012 (House) Public Hearing held.
02/07/2012 (House) Public Hearing and Possible Work Session scheduled.
02/16/2012 (House) Passed House
02/24/2012 (Senate) Passed Senate
04/11/2012 Governor signed
Last year, a very similar bill was introduced, House Bill 2459. Thankfully, the bill died in the House. House Bill 4016 is even worse than last year's bill.
If House Bill 4016 passes, volunteers in a church, youth group or with any charitable organization that has contact with children would become mandatory reporters. This would be the first time that volunteers in Oregon would be subjected to possible criminal charges if they failed to make child abuse and neglect reports.
House Bill 4016 would add the following individuals to the already large list of mandatory reporters:
"Employees or volunteers of any public or private organizations providing child-related services or activities that allow the employees or volunteers temporary care, control and supervision of a child, including but not limited to youth groups or centers, scout groups or camps, summer or day camps, survival camps and groups, centers or camps that are operated under the guidance, supervision or auspices of religious, public or private educational systems or community service organizations."
A Class A violation is a criminal charge which, if convicted, would subject the individual to a fine of $720 per violation.
In 2010 in Oregon, 89.8% of all reports of abuse and neglect were determined to not be abuse or neglect. Of all reports that were investigated, 74.8% were determined to be unfounded. See the annual reports on abuse and neglect statistics in Oregon online.
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