Laws on reporting child abuse to change

Law would make it illegal to not report suspected child abuse

ORLANDO, Fla. - New laws on reporting child abuse are changing in Florida, making it a legal obligation for anyone to report child abuse if they suspect it.

Florida law currently states if someone suspects a parent or guardian of abusing a child, the person is required by law to report it. The new law goes further, saying if something suspects anyone of abusing a child they still have a legal obligation to report.

"There will be repercussions for individuals that fell to protect that child," said Carrie Hoeppner of the Department of Children and Families.

Hoeppner said the agency is expecting an increase in reports. Last year, the agency's abuse hotline, 1-800-96-ABUSE fielded 300,000 calls. DCF is hiring 47 more employees to handle the increase in calls when the new law takes effect.

Parents Local 6 spoke to said they had mixed feelings about the new law.

"I think it could be a quite dangerous thing really," said Ema Ritson,a  mother of two. "Because you could suspect something without any grounds, people behave in different ways for all sorts of reasons."

Monika Chiirnos said she believes it could lead to people being falsely accused because what's acceptable in one culture may not be in another.

"It's a different way to see things, depending on your culture," she said. "I'm Latin, we hug people we kiss, if you say hello to somebody even if you are just meeting the people you kiss them."

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.

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