Ladner files legislation aimed at reducing false child abuse reports

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rep. Timmy Ladner, of Poplarville, introduced a bill last week that could lessen the anonymity of reports made to the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.
HB 593 would require complainants of suspected child neglect or abuse to provide their name, address and telephone number, whereas the current statute provides for complete anonymity.
However, the bill stipulates the complainant’s identity shall not be released, unless it is discovered the person intentionally made a false report, at which time criminal charges would be pursued.
Professionals who are legally required to report suspicions of abuse, such as physicians, psychologists, law enforcement or teachers, are already mandated to provide personal information.
If passed into law, the policy would take effect after July 1, 2017.
The bill was referred to the House’s Public Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Sam C. Mims V of McComb, and Vice Chairman Chris Johnson, of Hattiesburg.
Similar bills were filed last week and referred to other committees.
Rep. David Baria, of Bay St. Louis, filed a similar bill that too was sent to the Public Health and Human Services Committee.
Rep. Richard Bennett, of Jackson, filed HB 844, which was referred to the House Judiciary A Committee.
Rep. Steve Hopkins, of Southaven, filed HB 386, which was sent to the House Youth and Family Affairs and Judiciary B committees.
The aim of the legislation is to curtail the large number of unfounded and false reports CPS receives, some of which are made carelessly or maliciously, Ladner told the Sun Herald.
Almost 80 percent of reports investigated by CPS are deemed unsubstantiated, but 21 percent of those children are still taken into state custody, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ladner didn’t return a request for comment from the Item.

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