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Proposed Law to Protect Child Abuse Whistleblowers

One state's senate has voted 36-2 to provide people who report child sex abuse with whistleblower protections. According to the bill, employers cannot fire, suspend or demote whistleblowers when they report suspected abuse to authorities.

A state senator in Louisiana filed the bill (Senate Bill 158) in response to the Penn State University allegations of abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky that were not reported.

Sandusky is charged with dozens of criminal counts for alleged sexual abuse of at least eight boys over 15 years at the school. "Child-abuse-prevention measure wins state Senate approval," www.dailycomet.com (Apr. 10, 2012).

Commentary and Checklists

Fear of termination is one reason employees may not report suspected child abuse. Although many states have mandatory reporting laws, the proposed bill described in the source article could provide yet another incentive for employees who suspect child abuse within an organization to come forward.

Child molesters seek out children, making organizations that work with and supervise children prime targets for abusers. Children rarely report abuse. For these reasons, it is critical for safe adults working in these organizations to report abuse when they see it, suspect it or hear of it.

When employees know that they are safe from retaliation, they face one less barrier to reporting child abuse. They should also remember that it is up to trained professionals to investigate and make a final determination as to whether abuse has occurred. When abuse goes unreported, it will likely continue and claim more child victims.

The following behaviors in children can be signs of sexual abuse:
  • An increase in nightmares or other sleeping difficulties
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Propensity to run away
  • Refusal to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
  • Reluctance to be left alone with a particular person or people
  • Sexual knowledge, language, or behaviors that are unusual and inappropriate for their age.
Signs of possible sexual abuse by a parent or another adult in the home, include an adult who:
  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially those of the opposite sex
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members.
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