In a 98-0 vote on March 18, the state House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Kelly Chambers to hold mandatory reporters accountable for failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect to authorities.
Under current law, mandatory reporters – professional school personnel, licensed nurses, psychologists, social service counselors, licensed child care providers, etc. – are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, or to law enforcement.
House Bill 2033 would establish three types of offenses for when mandatory reporters fail to do so:
- A gross misdemeanor for those who obstruct the reporting of child abuse or neglect;
- A misdemeanor for those who intentionally fail to report child abuse or neglect; and
- A class 1 civil infraction for unintentional negligence that results in child abuse or neglect going unreported. Unlike the other two offenses, a civil infraction is not considered a criminal act.
“My number one priority with this bill is making sure our children are protected from their abusers,” said Chambers, R-Puyallup. “Most mandatory reporters do an excellent job carrying out their statutory duties, but some do not. It is those individuals we’re aiming to hold accountable. This bill would help us do that.”
House Bill 2033 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.