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Child Abuse Law Signing
County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker shakes hands with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon after he signs child abuse reporting legislation.

Child-Abuse Loophole Closed In Missouri

July 9, 2013

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on Tuesday, July 9 cheered Gov. Jay Nixon’s signing into law new legislation to close a loophole in child abuse reporting.

“When it comes to the protection of our most vulnerable persons ­-- our children -- Missouri cannot tolerate holes in its safety net,” said Baker, who attended Gov. Jay Nixon’s signing of the legislation at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“Reporting suspected child abuse is everyone's responsibility,” Baker added. “This law makes clear that duty, regardless of position or title.”

Most important, Baker said, is that a call might save a child. “Something as simple as picking up the phone can rescue a child from suffering,” she said. “I’ve seen it happen time and time again.”

Missouri’s child abuse hotline is 1-800-392-3738. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you are not required as a mandated reporter to report, you can give information without identifying yourself. But you are encouraged to give information to allow law enforcement to follow up with questions.

Gov. Nixon told The Associated Press that “we want to make sure every child has every opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.” Nixon signed three bills related to children on Tuesday, including legislation allowing parents more time to give up their newborns without legal consequences. Another law required screening for heart defects.

Missouri law currently requires mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect to report or “cause a report to be made” to the Children’s Division. But the new law requires reports be made directly, which may increase the quickness and accuracy of reports. A state Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children recommended the change, noting existing law sometimes resulted in reports not being made.

   
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