INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- While students and teachers head back to school this month, state lawmakers are working to fight child abuse and neglect. New legislation on the books in time for classes is making sure the responsibilities for those working in schools are clear.
It requires those working with kids report suspected abuse or neglect to DCS or police, then notify supervisors.
"I think a lot of people thought they should just tell their principal or their counselor and they would take care of it but this really drives the point home, we've all always been a mandatory reporter," said Jeannie Keating with Indiana DCS.
But the new legislation goes a step further.
"We are, put in the law that there has to be training every two years to describe what actually abuse is and what immediately is," said State Sen. Jim Merritt. "Because it seems as though people are delaying and delay is abuse in itself. And so with these predators in schools we have to redouble our efforts to make sure our kids are safe when they're put on the school bus every morning."
Just this week, investigators said an administrator at Indiana Christian Academy is facing a charge of failure to report child abuse. Court documents show a student told a teacher about alleged touching by a former school employee, but police said the administrator waited four days to report it.
The latest clarification on reporting is supported by some teachers across the state.
"Anything that we need to do to protect children is a good thing," said Indiana State Teachers Association president Teresa Meredith.
The effort to keep kids safe at home and in school is a top concern for advocates at Susie's Place. The organization provides training for students and school employees.
"We're just seeing this insurgence of requests for additional support," founder Emily Perry said.
Perry said they work with adults to teach them how to minimize the risk of sexual abuse happening and their obligations in reporting suspected abuse or neglect.
"So when we're getting called in to work with schools, most of it is just confusion about how to proceed when they have concerns about kids," she said.
Children's safety isn't just a priority for educators, though. DCS said everyone is a mandatory reporter. If you suspect abuse or neglect, call the DCS hotline at 800-800-5556.