Reporting Child Abuse in Florida

After news of the Jerry Sandusky scandal spread, Florida lawmakers got to work passing the toughest child abuse reporting laws in the county.

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkinson was joined by child abuse survivor Lauren Book Monday to unveil a program showing people how to spot child abuse victims.

“It’s our moral obligation and now it’s our legal obligation,” said Book.

Lauren walks the state every year and teaches safety in schools.

She lobbied to stiffen penalties for not reporting abuse increasing the punishment from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Since the law’s passage, calls to DCF’s child abuse hotline have risen 16% and hotline workers say more callers’ equals more points of view, giving DCF multiple perspectives on the same case or incident.

“So many of the calls are also data points, so it may not be a necessity to do an investigation at that point, but it may be collecting information that may be used to make a decision down the road,” said David Wilkinson.

DCF and Lauren are spreading the message through a campaign called Don’t Miss the Signs.

Despite all her success Lauren isn’t ready to stop fighting.

“I don’t know if I’m ever going to rest. I think I’m going to constantly be working on making this an issue that is important for the rest of our lives,” said Book.

Lauren’s launched an online petition, asking people to speak up for abused children.

The new law also creates a one million dollar fine for colleges and universities whose administrators learn about abuse but don’t tell the proper authorities.