I am leaning toward agreeing with the opposition on this bill.
CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) — A proposed bill aimed at making sure all school volunteers are held accountable for reporting suspected child abuse is raising questions.
The bill authored by Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, would legally require any adult who volunteers for at least 40 hours in a school year to report any signs of child abuse and neglect.
“This bill puts our volunteers in a difficult spot because they may feel forced to make a judgment call because there would be consequence of them not reporting them,” said Golden.
“The bill would impose criminal charges if they didn’t report, which is scary,” explained Golden.
Kayla Midthrun with the Chippewa Area Mentor program says it may also deter casual volunteers because of those criminal charges.
“That’s a big responsibility as a volunteer to be in charge of reporting something with those types of penalties in place for not doing it so that might scare someone.
In addition schools would be required to train volunteers on what must be reported which would force the district to begin tracking volunteer hours.
It’s asking a lot of a volunteer to be a mandatory reporter. Plus, these kids are seen by their teachers and other school staff for hours every day. Since they are already mandatory reporters, I don’t think making volunteers mandatory reporters adds any value. Most volunteers are going to report something to a teacher or administrator if they suspect something anyway and those folks can handle it from there.
As a teacher, this is a very bad bill. So, if a person averages 1 hour a week volunteering, now they have the legal responsibility to report abuse?
They will not see the totality of a possible abuse situation.
Basically, it would put that person who volunteer to report every injury that is visible, not knowing what really happened.
If a kid comes to school with a black eye and a volunteer sees the student, they would be obligated to report the abuse.
Meanwhile a teacher can ask the kid what happened and it could turn out the kid got hit while playing football, ran into a wall, accidently tripped etc. Then the teacher can make the determination whether to call CPS.
Meanwhile, the volunteer, who probably won’t be able to talk the student now faces a criminal charge if they don’t report it.