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While the 2012 Legislature has been hung up on some issues, lawmakers approved a law that expanded the sorts of professionals required to report child abuse and neglect.
The legislation came in response to the recent scandal at Penn State University. There, former assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 40 counts of child sex abuse involving multiple boys over a 15-year period. Longtime coach Joe Paterno, who had supervised him, was fired.
Before the bill passed, a long list of professionals were required to report abuse, but employees of higher education institutions and organized youth activities were not.
During the Senate debate on the legislation, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, a Gresham Democrat, spoke briefly in favor of the mandatory reporter expansion.
"It really will help all adults recognize their responsibility to protect our kids," she told her colleagues. "In 2010, about 75 percent of child abuse and neglect reports in Oregon were made by those required to report by law. It is clear, very clear, that mandatory reporting is a very important tool to keep our kids safe."
We thought a quick check on her 75 percent figure would be interesting.
As always, we started with the speaker and gave Monnes Anderson’s office a call. Molly Woon, a spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats, pointed us to the 2010 Child Welfare Data Book published by the Oregon Department of Human Services.
According to the report, which was released last March, 74.4 percent of the abuse and neglect cases were reported by school and medical officials, police, clergy, child-care providers, court and mental health personnel and therapists -- all of whom are required to report.
The other 25 percent of reports came from the abusers themselves, parents or, according to department spokesman Gene Evans, victims, relatives, friends, neighbors, ex-live-ins, ex-spouses and anonymous reporters.
The figures make this claim an easy one to rule on. Monnes Anderson said 75 percent of the abuse and neglect reports the state collected in 2010 came from mandatory reporters. The Department of Human Services backs her up. We rate this claim True.
Rep. Laurie Monnes Anderson, floor speech, Feb. 24, 2012
Email from Gene Evans, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, Feb. 28, 2012
Email from Molly Woon, spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats, Feb. 27, 2012
Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Data Book, March 2011
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