The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) identified 53 new pieces of state legislation introduced so far in 2013, about three times the number of new bills they identified in all of 2012.
Those bills were dropped in a total of 21 states, and focused on amendments to current laws governing the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. Specific issues include:
- Expanding the types of professionals who are mandated to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect
- Requiring training for certain professionals on the recognition of child abuse and neglect and the requirement to report
- Imposing or increasing penalties for failure to report, and against employers that interfere with employees who try to report
The increased legislative attention suggests that the issue has not faded from the minds of lawmakers since November of 2011, when the Penn State sex abuse scandal exposed the failures of officials at that university to report the horrific actions of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Not all of the legislation increased the scope of a reporting. One California bill would render homelessness, in and of itself, insufficient grounds for reporting abuse or neglect. Many of them require periodic or at least initial training for mandatory reporters.