The severity of not reporting child abuse in the state of Georgia has become a little stricter, or will so, as of Sunday, July 1.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said that Georgians who perform volunteer work with children will be required by law to report any suspected child abuse.
This new law provision is part of Georgia House Bill 1176, which is a reform criminal justice bill that was signed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal May 2 of this year.
HB 1176 will change the definition of “child service organization personnel” to include volunteers, who will be required to report suspected child abuse.
According to the press release, the new law defines child service organization personnel as: “Child service organization personnel” means persons employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit, or voluntary, that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children.
“From an ethical and moral standpoint, volunteers who work with children already have an obligation to report suspected child abuse,” said Olens. “HB 1176 simply makes this obligation a requirement by law.”
Carol Vedrody, director of Prevent Child Abuse Gordon County, said that the law will hold more people accountable when it comes to looking after the children in the area.
“It’s really going to increase the number of people who are mandated to report because it’s everybody just about,” said Vedrody. “Altogether, everywhere, if you work with children or come in contact with children, you are required to report it.”
Now, that the law is enforcing stern requirements, it is Gordon County’s task to get more information out into the community.
“We need to get information out there that will let people know what and when to report,” said Vedrody. “We tell people that if you see something you feel is wrong, or see marks on a child and there is no reasonable explanation, or a child tells you something, it’s your duty to report it. It’s not your duty to investigate it; that’s DFCS job, not yours.”
For more information on HB 1176, visit www.legis.ga.gov.