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Child abuse reports increase under new Florida law

3:34 PM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
By HO, AFP/Getty Images Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's booking photo. He was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Anyone in Florida can be charged now with a felony for failing to report child abuse.

A new state law took effect this week that's being called the "Penn State law" because it followed the Jerry Sandusky child molesting scandal.

The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law requires anyone to report child abuse to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Failure to do so could result in felony charges, or if someone at a university fails to report, the school could face fines of up to $1 million.

Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Erin Gillespie says the law is already having an impact. Since it took effect Monday, more people are calling the state's Abuse Hotline.

"Since this new law took effect on the 1st, we have seen an increase in our call volume by about 25 percent and we certainly did expect an increase in the call volume just because of the changes in the law, but also trying to get the word out that if you see abuse, you must report that," said Gillespie.

The Florida Department of Children and Families reports more than one million children are victims of abuse or neglect each year.

The Abuse Hotline is 1-800-962-2873. You can also file a report online at www.myflfamilies.com.

First Coast News

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