|Updated: 11/16/2011 10:49 pm
||Published: 11/16/2011 8:38 pm
Teachers, clergymen, and even dentists are just three of Arkansas's mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. But, coaches are missing from the list. In the wake of the Penn State scandal, that's hard to understand.
One state senator is trying to add coaches to the list of mandated reporters.
"It doesn't list coaches specifically, and I take great concern with that because if you're not listed specifically, to be a reporter, a mandated reporter, then you're not going to know to do it," says State Senator Missy Irvin from Mountain View.
Irvin is also the chair of the State Senate's Children and Youth Committee.
Brandon Griffin is the recreation superintendent for Bryant's Bishop Center, and he sees hundreds of children each day. Unfortunately, he's also seen signs of child abuse.
"In previous places I've worked, I've had to call from things whether it be bruises, whether it be things that kids have said. Those things are all just red flags that go up," says Griffin.
By law, Griffin is not required to report possible abuse.
"It's ridiculous, I mean for whether it be a teacher, whether it be a youth worker, whether it be a coach, it's kind of your responsibility to take a stand and watch out for the well being of these kids," he says.
So why aren't coaches mandated reporters?
"Our attorneys believe that they are considered either a school official or a teacher under the child maltreatment act," says Amy Webb with the Department of Human Services.
"What about Little League coaches or other coaches who aren't coaches affiliated with schools?" asked FOX16's Kelly Dudzik.
"They are not mandated reporters, but, you know, one of the things we really hope people understand is that you don't have to be a mandated reporter to report child abuse," says Webb.
Griffin thinks anyone who fails to report it should face criminal charges.
"If you ignore or turn a cheek to those kinds of things, you can never know what's going on at home," he says.
DHS tells FOX16 that in Arkansas, mandated reporters face misdemeanor charges if they fail to report suspected abuse.
Louisiana's governor just issued an executive order extending mandated reporter status to anyone working at a public college. FOX16 talked with Governor Beebe's office, and Beebe has no plans to do that. The Governor believes if you suspect abuse, it's common human decency to report it.
The 2013 legislative session could bring change. You can't change or pass regular legislation during the fiscal session unless a two-thirds majority in both the AR State House and Senate agree to vote on it.
Senator Irvin says changes could be made through the rules and regs committee. She brought this issue up at a Children and Youth Committee meeting Wednesday and plans to stay on top of the situation.