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Nebraska, Iowa similar yet different in child abuse reporting laws

Project Harmony says Nebraska and Iowa have similarities and also differences in their mandatory reporting laws of child abuse.
Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 18:17:13-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -- — Within a two week span two staff members of different school districts are accused of inappropriately touching students.

Former Fontenelle Elementary First Grade Teacher Greg Sedlacek is charged with at least 7 counts of sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors say the suspect committed many felony assaults before being turned in.

This week, a Wilson Middle School Para-Educator in Council Bluffs resigned over allegations of fondling a student. CB Community Schools said the parents were in charge of filing a police report.

Gene Klein, the Executive Director of Project Harmony, says Nebraska and Iowa have similar reporting laws but there are differences. In both everyone is a mandatory reporter, but in Iowa professionals who work with children are specifically named. They include people in health care, mental health care, social work, child care, education, and law enforcement.

"Part of the reason why Iowa narrowed it down to specific disciplines is that if you fail to report you could lose your license that's one consequence that could happen, where the State of Nebraska kept there's general enough where they didn't want people to think that those are the only reporters of abuse and neglect," Klein explained.

Klein adds if you suspect child abuse it's not up to you to prove it, call 911 or the Child Abuse Hotline of Nebraska or the Child Abuse Hotline of Iowa.

Project Harmony says if a child doesn't disclose abuse...look for signs of sexual behaviors in children, physical injuries, or serious neglect where kids aren't getting their basic needs met.