According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there is no standardized rule or federal law regarding the reporting of child abuse.
(1888PressRelease) October 17, 2012 - Plymouth Meeting, PA)-In the wake of the recent high-profile and highly publicized child sexual abuse scandals, many states are revisiting their child sexual abuse reporting laws, in some cases requiring people to report suspected child sexual predators or suspicions of child sexual abuse, or else they could face civil and criminal penalties.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there is no standardized rule or federal law regarding the reporting of child abuse. Only eighteen states require anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to report it to authorities. Forty-eight states designate certain professionals such as teachers, police, clergy, and doctors, who are required by law to report child abuse. The problem is that the circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report vary from state to state.
"I believe the reporting of child sexual abuse should be mandated in every state, and the laws should be the same across the country," says Peter S. Pelullo, a frequent guest on the Dr. Drew Show and author of the recently released book "Betrayal and the Beast." "We're talking about a crime, an act of violence, just as heinous as rape. It's crucial that anybody who knows of or suspects child sexual abuse reports it to authorities immediately."
In his book Mr. Pelullo focuses on his own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual predation. For many years he kept hidden and refused to face his own debilitating issues as a survivor-the shame, rage, multiple addictions, depression, and other influences that directly impacted his life. Finally, at the age of fifty-five, Mr. Pelullo confronted the sexual abuse he endured as a child.
In more than thirty states, more than a hundred child sexual abuse mandatory reporting bills have been proposed. A third of those states have passed laws, according to the National Children's Alliance.
"Surprisingly, the sexual abuse of children was not taken seriously for decades. It was only in 1974 that Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act," says Mr. Pelullo. "The act required states to establish laws for reporting suspected cases."
Usually it falls to the police and/or child protective agencies to handle reports of child abuse. Again, how they handle the report can vary widely and can often be discretionary rather than using set guidelines and legal processes.
Mr. Pelullo's personal experience of sexual abuse led him to create the Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation, which helps and supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world. The foundation is committed to supporting the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and its research toward preventing child sexual abuse and improving treatment for survivors of abuse.
"The aftermath of sexual assault is a long-lasting trauma that can affect a person's whole life," says Mr. Pelullo. "Many survivors can suffer from depression, personality and eating disorders, drug or alcohol addiction, sexual compulsive disorder, and many other disorders."
As of today, the following professionals are most often legally required to report suspicions of child sexual abuse:
* Doctors, nurses, dentists, and hospital and medical personnel
* Licensed psychologists
* Professional counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists
* Schoolteachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers
* Child welfare agency and child service organization personnel
* Law enforcement officers and personnel
"It's too sad that people need a legal push to report sexual abuse cases and don't do it from moral obligation," says Mr. Pelullo. "New mandatory reporting laws will help to protect more children and make our society more aware of this pandemic."
Peter S. Pelullo was the founder of Philly World Records and owner of a premiere recording studio in the '70s, where he worked with the Rolling Stones, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Cashmere, and Eugene Wilde. He is now an entrepreneur and financier focusing on technology startups. During his journey in recovery, he created the Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation, which supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world.