More callers reporting child abuse to Florida hotline - WFLA News Channel 8

More callers reporting child abuse to Florida hotline

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Calls to Florida's child abuse hotline are up 16 percent. It's not necessarily because of an increase in abuse, but rather, a new law that requires people to report.

The law passed, after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. It's one of the toughest laws in the country, making failure to report child abuse a third-degree felony.

"We really have a chance to significantly reduce abuse in this state," said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. He was joined by abuse survivor Lauren Book in Tallahassee 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 teaches safety in schools. She lobbied to stiffen penalties for not reporting abuse increasing the punishment from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Workers at the abuse hotline 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 Wilkinson.

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

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

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