A new state law enhances protections against child abuse by closing loopholes that allowed some schools to avoid reporting such abuse to the civil authorities.
On December 7, 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Bill S.7372-B-Gallivan/A.8485-B-Nolan into law. According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, this legislation requires private schools, charter schools, state-operated schools, and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to “report abuse allegations directly to law enforcement, the child’s parents and the Department of Education.” The law applies the same requirement to public schools in New York City. Existing law required traditional public schools outside New York City to make such reports but did not require other categories of schools to do so. Furthermore, the legislation requires school employees to “undergo mandatory training in identifying physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and how to properly file a report.” Administrators and school employees “who fail to report will face a Class A misdemeanor, up to a $500 fine and potential loss of their professional license[s].” The new law takes effect in 180 days.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is thankful for the passage of this new law, as the existing loopholes that allowed abuse to go unreported were unacceptable and dangerous. All schools—including Christian schools—are morally obligated to take every reasonable step to prevent child abuse from occurring in the first place. However, in the grievous event that a child is abused in an educational setting, sweeping the problem under the carpet or quietly dismissing the perpetrator fails to provide justice for the child and allows the perpetrator to remain free to engage in similar behavior in the future.