Continuing Education Provider Professional Development Resources Addresses New Florida Child Abuse Law

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Professional Development Resources, a nationally accredited provider of continuing education (CE) to psychologists, social workers, counselors, speech-language pathologists, registered dietitians and occupational therapists, is educating its customers on Florida’s newly enacted child abuse law.

Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

While previous laws have required reporting only when the suspected abuser was a parent or caretaker, the new statute applies to any abuser, even those who are children themselves.

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Professional Development Resources has updated its online course on domestic violence, which includes modules on child abuse and intimate partner violence, to include the details of Florida’s new child abuse law.

The new law, which took effect October 1, 2012, has a number of provisions that make it possibly the toughest child abuse law in the United States. Before the passage of this law — officially called the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act — there was no legal requirement to report suspected abuse if the abuser was not a parent or caretaker.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, “Colleges and universities that ‘knowingly and willfully’ fail to report suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect — or prevent another person from doing so — now face fines of up to $1 million for each incident. And individuals who fail to report abuse and neglect face felony prosecution and fines up to $5,000.”

The new law also makes reporting of child-on-child abuse mandatory for the first time. “While previous laws have required reporting only when the suspected abuser was a parent or caretaker, the new statute applies to any abuser, even those who are children themselves,” says the Sentinel article. Children 12 and under who are deemed perpetrators will be referred for treatment and therapy, but those 13 and up will be referred to law enforcement.

All 50 states have laws that mandate reporting of child maltreatment. Some states use more specific definitions of who is a mandated reporter. Others opt for more flexible verbiage in order to cast a wider net. In all states, healthcare providers are mandated reporters.

All mandatory reporting laws use intentionally vague descriptors of the level of concern or certainty the reporter must have in order to initiate a report. Some laws specify “cause to believe…” or “suspect…” in order to achieve the threshold for reporting. In order to encourage wider compliance, all mandatory laws include good faith exemptions from civil prosecution if it is ultimately determined that maltreatment cannot be substantiated.

In the State of Florida, mental health professionals are periodically required to complete a continuing education course on domestic violence. Professional Development Resources has updated its course Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence to update readers on the new protections and reporting requirements included in Florida’s new child abuse law.

“We are proud that the State of Florida has taken this initiative to help protect children,” says Leo Christie, PhD, president of Professional Development Resources, Inc. “We are taking advantage of the opportunity to pass along this new information to all of the professionals who rely on our company to keep them up to date on mandatory reporting of child abuse.”

About Professional Development Resources, Inc.

Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1992 by licensed marriage and family therapist Leo Christie, PhD. The company, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – as well as many other national and state boards – has focused its efforts on making continuing education courses more cost-effective and widely accessible to health professionals by offering online home study coursework. Its current expanded curriculum includes a wide variety of clinical topics intended to equip health professionals to offer state-of-the art services to their clients.

Leo Christie, PhD, CEO
Professional Development Resources, Inc.

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