Juvenile corrections officers would be added to the state’s list of mandatory reporters of child abuse, under a bill being proposed at the Wisconsin Capitol.
State Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) is a co-sponsor of the legislation, which he said is intended to prevent abuse from happening to youth under any circumstances. “Every child is important, and regardless of if the child is in school or a juvenile correction facility, if abuse is happening we think there should be mandatory reporting of that,” he said.
Many professions in the state are already required to report possible child abuse cases to law enforcement – including doctors, teachers, and first responders.
The introduction comes as the state faces a lawsuit from civil rights groups, which claim teens housed at the state’s Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile facilities. Those locations are also under a federal investigation.
Kleefisch said he could not comment directly on the lawsuit, but stressed all children in the state deserve to be protected – whether they are in school or in a correctional facility. “If there is a child being abused, there is an obligation to report that,” he said.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), is currently being circulated for co-sponsors.