Joe Gufford has practiced law for over a decade in Stuart, Florida. In his work as a child custody attorney, he sometimes encounters situations wherein child abuse has occurred. Like many individuals in his profession, Joseph Gufford is familiar with the legal requirement to report such situations.If you are a victim of child abuse or are aware of child abuse, abandonment or neglect contact 1-800-96-ABUSE.
Recently the Florida state legislature passed a law, the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act, which sets stiff penalties for persons failing to report child abuse. Stories of a cover-up in the Pennsylvania State University scandal prompted the legislation.
Prior to this law, state mandatory reporting statutes applied only when the abusers were caregivers, such as guardians or parents. Now, the law applies to anyone. For colleges and universities, failure to report situations they know about could bring a fine up to $1 million. The penalty for individuals not reporting is $5,000, carrying a felony conviction. Local law enforcement will handle cases not involving parents or caregivers.
The law further mandates that the Florida Department of Children and Families provide convenient ways to report, such as e-mails and texting. The legislature allotted the agency an additional $2.1 million to employ additional workers for the state hotline.