National Children’s Advocacy Center Touts Changes To State Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Law

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The National Children's Advocacy Center is calling attention to changes in state law.

More people are now legally required to report evidence of child abuse if they see it.

Physical therapists are now on the list along with all employees of public and private schools.

The National Children's Advocacy Center pushes the power of reporting possible abuse.

The NCAC's Catherine Hereford says, "Obviously, the more people who are required to report it, the better for all of us, especially for our children."

Calling in an abuse case could change the course of a child's life.

If dialing a few numbers and making a report is all it takes, then NCAC leaders believe it shouldn't take the law forcing you to do it.

Hereford adds, "We want every adult to understand, regardless of their occupation or their position in the community, we all have the social and ethical responsibility to report, whether it's the law or not."

But whether you're a good Samaritan calling in or someone bound by law, you have to know what you're calling about, and at the NCAC has identified a wide range of symptoms.

Hereford lists, "A change in grades, a change in friends, if they're becoming more withdrawn, if they're becoming more attention-getting, any big change that you see in this child could be an indicator."

And if you see those changes, pick up the phone and call the police or Department of Human Resources.

After all, the state legislature made a simple change to protect people who do report suspected child abuse.

The legislature voted to make it a crime to fire someone under those circumstances.

Still, Hereford believes the extra protection for those calling in a child abuse case serves a purpose, but shouldn't be necessary, "We think that you should always say something without fear of losing your job or anything else.  Wouldn't you rather save the life of a child than worry about working for someone who may or may not let you go because you've done the right thing?"

Still if you're thinking about calling in a case of suspected abuse - it's one concern allayed.

Another concern for potential reporters - getting it wrong.

Hereford says not to worry so much about that, "We would talk to them.  We would talk to the child.  Children are inherently terrible liars, and we have highly trained forensic interviewers that discuss these cases with these children.  And they're able to determine what if anything actually happened."

So when weighing making the all-important phone call - there's a few weights off your mind.

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