Oregon Law Firm
New College & University Child Abuse Reporting Law Takes Effect January 1
Oregon is one of many states that acted in the wake of the Penn State child abuse tragedy to pass a new child abuse reporting law applicable to all employees of colleges and universities. The new requirements take effect January 1, 2013. Although the law does not appear to require new policies, procedures or training, institutions of higher education would benefit from taking steps to ensure employees are aware of their new legal responsibilities. Those responsibilities are set out in 2012 HB 4016 (now 2012 Oregon Laws, Ch. 92), which amends ORS 419B.005’s list of mandatory child abuse reporters by including all employees of higher education institutions instead of just certain identified categories of employees. Understanding the new responsibilities takes a few steps.
First: Who are the affected employers? Any “higher education institution” means:
- Any community college. ORS 341.005 defines this as “a public institution operated by a community college district for the purposes of providing courses of study limited to not more than two years’ full-time attendance, with the exception of technical programs in which the curriculum may require more than two years of attendance but less than four years, and designed to meet the needs of a geographical area by providing educational services, including but not limited to career and technical education programs or lower division collegiate programs.”
- Any public university. ORS 352.002 provides the list: University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Western Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, and Eastern Oregon University.
- Oregon Health and Science University.
- Any private institution of higher education located in Oregon.
Second: Which employees are affected?
- Any “school employee, including an employee of a higher education institution.“
Third: What is the reporting duty?
- Employees of higher education institutions fall within a class that the reporting law calls “public or private officials.” Any such individual must make a report to the Department of Human Services or designee or law enforcement if he/she has reasonable cause to believe that any child with whom he/she comes in contact has suffered abuse, or that a person with whom he/she comes into contact has abused a child.
Fourth: To what degree is this responsibility an individual responsibility?
- The duty to report is personal to the individual and is in addition to any college or university internal reporting policy.
These are important responsibilities and will be new and confusing for some employees. We recommend that employers in higher education revise any existing reporting policies, put reporting policies in place if they do not have them, and promptly communicate the new responsibilities to all employees through training, notices, newsletters, paycheck enclosure, and/or signage.
We have posted the text of 2012 Oregon Laws, Ch. 92 on our website, along with ORS 419B.005 (which outlines how to make a report). You can download them here:
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