On Thursday, the Senate gave unanimous approval to legislation modifying child abuse reporting requirements. House Bill 2259, by Rep. Dell Kerbs and Sen. Ron Sharp, requires individuals, especially educators, to report suspected child abuse or neglect of those 17 years or younger immediately to the DHS Child Abuse Hotline and those 18 years or older to law enforcement.
“Current law advises people to reports suspected abuse and neglect ‘promptly’ but this term is obviously getting misinterpreted as many cases aren’t being reported for several days or weeks after it’s discovered,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “As a former educator, I’m glad that the bill specifically requires teachers to report suspected abuse and neglect as these are the people who spend the most time with these kids and can recognize changes in behavior or see evidence of abuse. For most kids, schools are safe zones and they trust their teachers and often open up about violence in their home. Hopefully, this change will help protect more of Oklahomans children and get them away from bad situations.”
HB 2259 was requested by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education. Under Oklahoma statutes, “teachers” include administrators, counselors and classroom instructors.
“I’m pleased to have authored this measure that will put a clear and transparent law into place to ensure children who are abused or neglected will have immediate help,” said Kerbs, R-Shawnee.
HB 2259 now goes to the Governor for final consideration