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New law makes coaches mandated reporters

Updated: 08/07/2014 6:22 PM
Created: 08/07/2014 6:15 PM WNYT.com
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Coaches of sports teams might be the first adults outside the home to know if kids are suffering from abuse. 

But until now, school coaches weren't legally required to report what they suspected.

A law signed by the governor this week closes that loophole. It adds coaches to the list of people in positions of authority---doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers--who have to report when they believe a child is being harmed.

Prosecutors call it a no-brainer.

"Aren't we really all mandated reporters? If I see, or you see, or anybody sees child abuse in our presence, I think we don't need to ask ourselves are we mandated reporters to call it in. Don't we have a moral obligation, really, to report on a child abuser?" said Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney.

This change is likely the result, at least in part of the scandal at Penn State where children were abused by a senior football coach. 

District Attorney Murphy points out that the reporting of the suspected abuse is only as good at the person receiving the report.

"It has to be believed. It has to be investigated by somebody who has no preconceived decision or emotion or stake in the case and I think that's what the law does here."

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