Should this become the law in Colorado? Not so fast.
SENATE BILL 13-012 CONCERNING REPORTING OF SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT BY YOUTH SPORTS ORGANIZATIONS was introduced to the Colorado General Assembly in January 2013. If approved, the Bill will move Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk.
“The bill adds directors, coaches, assistant coaches, and athletic program personnel for private sports programs or organizations to the list of persons required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the county or district department of social services or local law enforcement agency”.
Currently, Colorado Revised Statute 19-3-304 includes physicians, teachers, firemen, and clergy among many others required to report any hint of child abuse or neglect to authorities. Do we really need to add privately owned companies to this list? To read the statute in its entirety, click here.
This is a pivotal piece of legislation for sports participants, young and old. One can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t introduced because of the Jerry Sandusky conviction. SB13-012 puts this criminal defense attorney at odds and privately owned athletic organizations at financial and criminal risk. There are already many, many qualified professionals on the extensive list of reporters.
This Bill certainly exposes every coach, assistant coach or paid employee associated with a private sports club to possible criminal charges. Should a coach or team secretary be required to report to social services or police every bruise or hug for fear of being charged with a crime. Ridiculous.
No doubt it is criminal to turn a blind eye to child sex assault, physical abuse, hunger or neglect. Every team parent, neighbor and spectator has the moral duty to report. That in itself is not a guarantee of the safekeeping of a child. The Denver Post and 9news recently ran a week long investigation, “Failed to Death”, addressing the inadequacies of our social services departments.
What happens when a coach reports a questionable injury? The child is removed from the home. The parents are under investigation for child abuse and neglect. The coach is placed on leave. The questionable injury turns out to be appendicitis. The liability for private coaching and staff is enough to walk away from the sport.
Philip M. Smith is a Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney. If you are having problems with a child abuse or neglect criminal case, please phone 303-333-8900
Who knows if this will make it to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk before the spring and summer sports season begins. Contact your local representative with your opinion on SB13-012.