(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri state senator is proposing legislation to require everyone witnessing sexual abuse of a child to report it to authorities.
Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch his bill is directed only at people who witness sexual abuse. The proposed legislation would make failing to report child sex abuse a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Right now, only teachers, doctors, medical professionals and clergy are required to report suspected child abuse.
Earlier this year, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster asked lawmakers to extend the current mandatory reporting law to everyone. Critics say the legislation might lead to unwarranted reports of abuse, making it difficult to investigate legitimate child abuse cases.