TAMPA - News of tougher legislation, dubbed "The Penn State Law" after the conviction of the school's former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges, spread quickly at local universities, including the University of Tampa.
Katelyn McDonnell, a junior at UT, had a strong opinion when asked if the state needed to crack down. "Definitely," said McDonnell.
Freshman Shea Harking agreed. "There still will be more cases like this, but I am still with the new law," said Harking.
Florida's old law required someone to report abuse only if they suspected the abuser was a parent or a caregiver. And if they failed to do so, it was a misdemeanor.
The new law means citizens must report anyone they suspect of abusing children and if they don't, they could go to prison for five years.
And now universities and colleges are included. If they fail to report abuse, the school could be fined $1 million per incident.
"If the school is covering up something to that degree, they should be penalized in the worst way possible," said Harking.
"I think it is a great idea," said McDonnell. "It not only keeps the school's reputation but it protects the students."
The new law comes a little late for father Tom Carey. His two daughters, only 14 and 16 at the time, were secretly recorded, along with many other schoolgirls, as they tried on bathing suits in their coach's office.
That coach, Kimberly Brabson from Tampa Prep, is serving a five-year prison term. And while Tampa Prep is a high school, Carey feels making everyone accountable may have made a difference.
"These young children are particularly vulnerable, because they are required to follow the lead of teachers, coaches and others. In that instance, we have to rely on people to come forward and protect them. I think this law sounds like it will go along way in making that happen," said Carey.
A nonprofit organization, laurenskids.org, pushed for the new legislation. Abuse survivor Lauren Book couldn't believe what happened at Penn State, and felt Florida children needed more protection.
Last year alone, the state's Department of Children and Families reported investigating cases involving more than 300,000 children.
DCF agreed this law will keep kids safer. "It really increases the responsibility on people to report the abuse and that was part of the problem in the incident at Penn State. It was not reported," said DCF spokesperson Erin Gillespie.
Also new, in the past, if someone reported a case of child abuse and it was not the caregiver, DCF would have to direct the person to the law enforcement agency in their area.
Gillespie said some might get frustrated or have second thoughts and the abuse would go unreported.
Now, with this law, DCF will handle all the calls and stay on the line while a call is transferred in hopes of not deterring callers.
The state abuse hotline is 1-800-962-2873, or you can file a report online at www.myflfamilies.com .
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