A bill meant to tighten reporting requirements for child abuse advanced in a key state Senate committee on Tuesday as lawmakers hope to give final approval to the measure in the coming weeks.
The bill is aimed at addressing what sponsors call a loophole in the existing law: Currently, mandated reporters are only required to report observed or suspected child abuse if it happens at the hands of someone who has a family relationship with the child.
The proposal backed by state Sen. Sue Serino, a Republican from the Hudson Valley, is meant to change that provision. Serino's bill would specifically require any person age 18 or older working directly with children, whether paid or as a volunteer, to be a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse directly to law enforcement.
Family members of abuse victims have been instrumental in pushing for the measure over the last several years, Serino said.
“When it comes to protecting our children, we have a duty to ensure that our laws are rock solid,” Serino said. “This horrific case has shown us that we must do more to put an end to abuse and send a clear message to would-be perpetrators that we have zero tolerance for such heinous acts. I urge my colleagues in the legislature to set politics aside, do the right thing, and join our push to advance this critical piece of legislation.”
The measure cleared the Senate Children and Families Committee on Tuesday. It is yet to come up for a vote in the state Assembly this year. The bill has been approved in prior years in the state Senate, but has failed to pass in the other chamber.