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Florida’s ‘Penn State law’ now in effect; punishes failure to report child abuse

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Florida has what may be the toughest law in the country for reporting child abuse. The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law went into effect Monday. The law makes failure to report child abuse a felony.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins says the mandatory reporting requirement used to apply only when the alleged abuser was the child’s parent or caregiver.

Not anymore.

It applies to anyone abusing a child, and anyone who knows about the abuse must report it.

“It allows and recommends and encourages any citizen in any place in this state,” Wilkins said. “If they see or are aware of any abuse occurring to any children in this state that they should call.”

Abuse can be reported to police or through the Department of Children and Families website.

It’s been referred to as the ‘Penn State law’ after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child molestation.

The law imposes million dollar fines for colleges and universities where staffers witness child abuse on campus and don’t report it.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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