A state representative from the Lowcountry is sponsoring a bill that would require any adult resident to report suspected child abuse.
State Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) has pre-filed legislation that would require anyone with information about potential child sexual abuse to report it to authorities. Current state law only requires certain professions, such as teachers, ministers, and medical professionals, to report.
According to the legislation, a person may also report possible child abuse to the Department of Social Services. McCoy says people who report possible abuse must have actual knowledge and not rely on hearsay or third party information.
While serving as a prosecutor for six years, McCoy says he has seen a number of child abuse cases fall through the cracks because of a lack of evidence and in other instances that have involved a family member as the suspected perpetrator.
“The family often weighs the balance of pros and cons and doesn’t want to prosecute a family member,” he told South Carolina Radio Network, “They kinda want to patch things up behind the scenes.”
He says recent reported scandals in South Carolina and the nation illustrates that when crimes such as sexual exploitation of children go unreported, the criminal behavior often spreads to other victims.
McCoy says he hopes that, if passed, the measure would help more people come forward to report cases of child abuse when others may be reluctant to do so.
According to the measure the penalty for failing to report would remain a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in prison.
AUDIO: McCoy wants fewer cases to fall through the cracks