Groping allegedly seen by teacher online highlights mandatory reporting law
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — A Berea man was charged with allegedly groping his stepdaughter while she was in online school late last month. A teacher at the Ohio Virtual Academy saw what happened and notified the police, which is exactly what she was supposed to do under Ohio’s mandatory reporting rules.
Officers arrested the man, who is a registered sex offender with an offense record involving a child, on the charge of sex imposition.
The Ohio Virtual Academy released a statement about what happened, saying it takes its obligations as a mandatory reporter seriously. The school also makes counselors available to students.
The case sheds light on Ohio’s mandatory reporting rules for sexual assaults.
Michael Benza, senior law instructor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, says the idea of imposing a duty on professionals who work with children, such as teachers, doctors and nurses, has been going on for over 45 years old. .
Teachers and other professionals working with children are responsible for identifying the risks that a child is at risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Once a teacher has made this identification, the law requires him to file a report. Teachers are not required to investigate or talk to the victim.
“We trust our teachers with our children. They spend as many and sometimes more of a child’s waking hours together than with their parents, and so we hope that our doctors, nurses or teachers are aware of the risks children face and will intervene where d other people could do it. not,” Benza said.
As our technology advances, Benza says teachers can see inside their students’ lives in ways that might have been hidden in the past.
On the other hand, Benza says it also raised other concerns about student living and study conditions, and whether teachers should be allowed to see him.
Yet Benza and Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro again stresses the importance of mandatory reporting.
“Cases of abuse and neglect are very unfortunate and relatively rare, but still far too common for us to be reassured,” DiMauro said.
Without mandatory reporting, Benza says, some people may be reluctant to speak up, when this legal obligation holds professionals like teachers, doctors and nurses accountable.
Benza does not have an answer as to whether virtual teaching has allowed teachers to report more situations of abuse.
But he says it provided another avenue where a teacher may be able to identify if something is going on, as was the case with the Ohio Virtual Academy teacher.
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