Taking Action

FCASV is Florida’s public policy voice for issues affecting sexual violence victims and the rape crisis programs that serve them. By offering training on the legislative process and orientation to the state Capitol, FCASV ensures that sexual violence advocates, allied professionals, and survivor activists understand and have a role in the public policy process.

Each year, the FCASV board, through its public policy committee, selects both state and federal legislative priorities on which to focus advocacy efforts. FCASV staff maintain a full-time presence with the state legislature during session, foster relationships with Florida’s congressional delegation, engage in advocacy with state agencies, and provide frequent alerts on FCASV’s state legislative priorities and federal legislative priorities.

FCASV tracks key legislation and monitors the news. See our current updated information and news clips.

Do you want to play a part in shaping Florida’s sexual violence policy? Join FCASV’s public policy alert list, contact us to set up a training, or ask us for individualized help to foster relationships with your elected officials.

How to contact your elected officials: Don’t know who your representatives are? Go to: http://www.vote-smart.org/ and enter your zip code.

Want to contact your representative or senator in the state legislature? Go to: www.leg.state.fl.us and select members for either your representative’s or senator’s contact information.

Want to contact your representative or senator in Congress?
Go to: http://clerk.house.gov/members/index.html for your representative’s contact information.
Go to: http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm for your senator’s contact information.

 

New Reporting Requirements Now in Effect
October 2012

When HB 1355 was signed by Governor Scott on April 27, 2012  – substantially altering Florida’s child abuse reporting laws by requiring that any known or reasonably suspected child abuse, regardless of the perpetrator, be reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline, and establishing significant penalties for educational institutions that fail to report child abuse  – opponents were concerned that an already overburdened child protection system would collapse under the weight of a skyrocketing number of reports. There were also those who wanted no part of a law that requires all adults to take responsibility for the welfare of Florida’s children, fearing that the law would turn every citizen into a government rat and flood the system with frivolous reports because one person’s “abuse” is another’s “discipline.”

However, the Department of Children and Families supported the legislation, which took effect on October 1st, and received an appropriation sufficient to fund the positions necessary to respond to the expected increase in reporting. Based primarily on previous reports of physical abuse by a stranger, analysts estimated an 10% increase in calls to the Florida Abuse Hotline in response to the bill’s passage. As of October 28th, the Department’s Abuse Hotline had seen a 5% increase in calls. Both the statewide sexual assault hotline/information line and the Lauren’s Kids hotline/information line have seen an increase in calls from citizens about the new reporting law, primarily from those who want to know how to make a report of known or suspected abuse and/or need support for their decision to do so. So far, none of the callers has described a situation the reporting of which could be described as frivolous. While it is too early to know the full impact of the legislation, it’s reasonable to assume that as more people become aware of their responsibility to report known or suspected abuse, more will be reported. Fortunately, the Department is properly situated to handle an increase.

The welfare of Florida’s children is everyone’s responsibility. When the Florida Legislature did away in 2010 with the statute of limitations on both civil and criminal claims of child sexual abuse relating to children under the age of 16, our state took an important step toward changing a society in which child abuse is tolerated. With the passage and implementation of HB 1355, Florida has taken another step, saying that no one can and should look away from child abuse.  As Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, argued so persuasively in Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press, 2008 & 2012):

“There are two levels of knowledge about child abuse in the United States. For the majority, childhood sexual abuse is a remote and unlikely event, in part because it never happened to them. Then there is the underground level where survivors exist, continually adjusting to a world that does not readily acknowledge a permanent part of their identity. The effects of this underworld, though, are felt by all. Whether or not you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you are paying a price in the lost output of the survivors and the mammoth medical costs of treating the physical and psychological injuries of those who have been abused and who may be trying to climb out of the dark.”