Child Abuse Investigations
Currently in Missouri schools, when there is an allegation of abuse at school, the district's superintendent is given the option to investigate. If the superintendent is the one accused of abuse, the school board president is given the option to investigate. While some school districts have chosen to always allow an outside investigator, other districts have continued with the process of self-investigating.
In 2022 Rep. Hannah Kelly sponsored HB2095, which prohibits school districts from self-investigating abuse allegations and requires that all investigations be made by an outside entity. It also includes language requiring parental consent on any corporal punishment. This language was amended to SB681 and truly agreed and finally passed by the legislature. Once the governor signs the bill, it will go into law on August 28, 2022.
Aren't teachers mandated reporters? Don't people who suspect or witness abuse have to hotline it?
Yes, teachers and school employees are mandated reporters, meaning they must hotline any situations of suspected abuse. When a person hotlines a suspected abuse situation to Children's Division and Children's Division determines that it needs to be investigated, the district superintendent will be notified. The superintendent will have the option to investigate the allegation or to allow Children's Division to investigate. If the superintendent chooses to investigate and finds the allegation unsubstantiated, he or she will report this to Children's Division and the case is closed. If the superintendent finds the allegation substantiated, then Children's Division will get involved.
Is child abuse more common for children with disabilities than children without disabilities?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 11 percent of all child abuse victims in 2009 had a disability and children with disabilities are almost two times more likely to be physically or sexually abuse or neglected than children without disabilities. Other studies claim children with disabilities are three times more likely to be abused than their peers without disabilities, while children with intellectual and mental health disabilities have nearly five times the risk of being sexually abused. In addition, abuse is typically more severe, is more likely to occur multiple times and is more likely to be repeated for a longer period of time. (disabilityjustice.org)