Bill would protect children, establish Alabama Child Abuse Hotline

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A bill from Rep. Becky Nordgren (R-Gadsden) would create the Alabama Child Abuse Hotline, a toll-free number where child abuse can be reported.

The text of HB353 specifies that the Department of Human Resources (ADHR) would be tasked with adopting rules regarding the establishment and management of the hotline, which is to be advertised in a place of prominence in every public and charter school throughout the state.

According to numbers available on the Alabama Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers’ website, more than 1,500 children died as a result of child abuse in 2011. Of those, about 75 percent suffered neglect, 15 percent suffered physical abuse and just under 10 percent suffered sexual abuse.

Children under the age of one suffered the highest rates of victimization.

According to ADHR’s 2014 report, which is the most recent available on the department’s website, more that 32,000 cases of child abuse or neglect were investigated – involving more than 50,000 children. That number has increased every year since 2011.

A report by the Children’s Defense Fund puts it this way – in Alabama, a child is abused or neglected every 56 minutes and a child dies before his or her first birthday every 14 hours.

Though the legislation currently has no co-sponsors, it is likely to gain wide support in the House and Senate, where Republicans have made families a centerpiece of their 2016 agenda.

Nordgren did not respond to a request for comment.

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