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August 25, 2010

Critical Victory over Child Abuse Reporting Legislation

Child & Family Protection Association

HSLDA partners with FPM to monitor legislation and take action on behalf of members and the homeschool community in California when appropriate.

Contact:
Roy Hanson’s HELP Tree
Child and Family Protection Association
P.O. Box 730
Lincoln, CA 95648-0730
Fax: (916) 415-9470
contact@childandfamilyprotection.org

Note: This article appears courtesy of Family Protection Ministries.

AB 2380, as originally written, contained a new provision that would have dangerously added “hearsay” to current child abuse reporting laws as a basis for reporting allegations of child abuse. This provision would have caused a large increase in your chances of being falsely accused of child abuse.

We are grateful to God that this dangerous provision in AB 2380 was stopped! This victory demonstrates how God works in many ways, including giving us at Family Protection Ministries (FPM) the privilege of being used by Him to protect you and your children.

We at FPM worked long hours behind the scenes to eliminate this dangerous provision. The work we did on this bill included researching, formulating technical amendment language and communicating with various legislative offices and organizations.

AB 2380 was passed by the Legislature after this dangerous provision (adding “hearsay”) was deleted from the bill. This final version that was sent to the governor’s office no longer creates a problem for the many innocent and loving parents raising their children in California. Therefore, it will not matter whether the governor signs or vetoes the bill.

No action is required on AB 2380.

Background

A provision in AB 2380 would have resulted in mandatory child abuse reporters reporting alleged instances of abuse or neglect in too many circumstances when “hearsay” was the only information available to the mandatory reporter. This provision would also have encouraged untrained non-mandatory reporters (i.e. ordinary, everyday people) to report somebody for child abuse based on “hearsay” alone. “Hearsay,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary, relies on something that an individual does not know personally, but only on what that individual has heard others say. As such, this makes it impossible in most circumstances to determine the credibility of “hearsay” by itself as evidence of wrongdoing.

AB 2380’s reliance and emphasis on “hearsay” alone as evidence would likely have resulted in a large number of innocent California families having to endure the trauma, the stigma, and the legal and financial burden of an investigation of alleged child abuse, even if the reports on these families were ultimately determined to be completely “unfounded.”

Already 75% of all child abuse reports turn out to be false allegations. Of all reports that go on to be investigated, over 60% turn out to be unfounded. If this bill were passed as originally written, these numbers would have significantly increased.

We are very thankful for the critically valuable counsel provided to us by Michael Smith at HSLDA as we worked to see the problem language removed from this dangerous bill.

“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39)