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New Training For Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters In Missouri

Esti Alvarez
New training for mandatory child abuse reporters in Missouri will soon be available.

Most adults in Missouri who work with children are required by law to report any suspected child abuse to the state. Too often, child advocates say, reports don’t get made but they hope to fix that later this year.

Two years ago the law requiring child abuse to be reported to the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services drastically changed.

For years teachers, coaches or other youth workers had to report suspicions to a supervisor. Now state law requires those reports to be made directly to state investigators.

Cherisse Thibaut with Missouri Kids First, a leading child advocacy organization based in Jefferson City, says new online training she's working on will help those individuals.   

“It’s a very stressful time to be concerned about a child that’s experiencing abuse. So we want these adults to have all the tools that they can to feel empowered to make that report,” she says.

Thibaut says many times supervisors chose not to call the state. "So maybe it was the school principal or school counselor did not believe that that call should be made or maybe didn't call or maybe had a relationship with the family and decided to handle that internally."

The Missouri General Assembly changed the law after a 2012 report from the Task Force on the Prevention of the Sexual Abuse of Children.

“It should be made clear that there is both a legal and moral duty to report child abuse and not just to an up-the-line supervisor. There is simply too much at stake to pass the buck," Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said in the report.

A draft of the online training is complete and they hope to make it available statewide by the end of the year.

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