By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Legislation sponsored by Dickie Drake (R) from Leeds would require Alabama citizens to report cases of child abuse or neglect to police or the Alabama Department of Human Resources. The Bill, HB 604, is known as the Savannah Hardin Mandatory Reporting Bill.
Rep. Drake said, ““ Placing added protections and safeguards in the law to help ensure our children are protected from abuse and neglect is of paramount importance to me and I appreciate my colleagues in the legislature for being so supportive of this measure.” “Empowering the citizens of this state with the ability to assist in the fight against child abuse will result in more criminals being brought to justice for heinous acts against children.”
Under the bill, any Alabama citizen with suspicion of or has knowledge of child abuse or neglect must report it to either law enforcement or the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Persons holding a professional license or certification providing services to children must receive yearly training in child abuse or neglect and mandatory reporting. The bill also penalizes people who knowingly make a false report of child abuse and neglect. The bill penalizes employers who retaliate against an employee who makes a report. There will be no penalties against people who make a report that later proves to be unsustainable
The bill has already passed the House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee and received a favorable report from the Committee. Rep. Drake thanked the committee for its recommendation. The bill can now be brought to the floor of the House.
The bill is named after Savannah Hardin, a 9 year old girl who was reportedly forced to run wind sprints for three and a half hours by her Stepmother and Grandmother in Cullman because she allegedly lied about eating a candy bar. The child subsequently died. The Savannah Hardin Mandatory Reporting Bill has already been passed in 18 states.
In an exclusive phone interview with ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ Rep. Dickie Drake said that the law would also apply to situations like the Penn State scandal where a graduate assistant coach allegedly witnessed another coach rape a child and merely reported that to a superior at the University, then head football coach Joe Paterno who reported it to his superior at the University and ultimately nothing happened. Under the Savannah Hardin Mandatory Reporting Law both the coach that allegedly witnessed the foul deed and Coach Paterno would be required to report what they knew to either their local police department or the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
The bill is being cosponsored by Reps. Givan, Ball, Hall, William (D), Treadaway, Collins, Nordgren, Todd, Brown, Faust, and Jackson.