Hoyt & Blewett Calls for Mandatory Reporter Law Reform to Protect Child Sex Abuse Victims

kids playing tug of war at camp

Under MCA 41-3-201, Montana law requires certain individuals to report child abuse when they know or have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse. Unfortunately, the list of mandatory reporters does not include operators of youth camps. This is a problem not only in Montana but in other states around the country as well.

A minority of states impose a mandatory duty on organizers, directors, employees, and volunteers of camps for children and other organized activities for children to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement. In all, only 13 states — including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia — impose such a requirement. Additionally, Connecticut requires “any paid youth camp director or assistant director” to be a mandatory reporter.

It is critically important for Montana’s mandatory reporter law to extend to camps and other organized youth activities because sex abuse is not always promptly reported to law enforcement by summer camp and youth activity operators. Recent sex abuse cases, such as the lawsuit Hoyt & Blewett PLLC brought against an organization that operated a youth summer camp, underscore the need for closing this loophole in Montana’s mandatory reporter laws.

A bill to close this loophole in Montana’s mandatory reporter law was introduced in the 2021 Legislative session, but the bill was defeated due to opposition from Republican lawmakers. There is simply no reason for the state of Montana to be the last state in the nation to protect children who attend summer camps and other organized youth activities.

What Can Parents Do?

Given the gaps in Montana law, it is important that parents ask questions, request policies, and obtain a clear understanding of a youth camp’s policy and training on reporting sex abuse before allowing their children to attend such camps. Parents can also call their Montana state legislators to ask about their stance on updating the state’s laws to help protect their children. You can click here to visit the official Montana Legislature website to learn how to effectively contact a member of the Montana Senate or House of Representatives.

Do You Have a Case?

If you or your child experienced any type of sexual abuse, molestation, or sexual assault while participating in a camp or other organized youth activity, the Montana sex abuse attorneys at Hoyt & Blewett PLLC are prepared to help. Assailants should be held responsible for their malicious actions, and if other parties and organizations were negligent in their protection of the victim, they should be held liable for the part they played. Churches, camps, and other organizations might have good intentions, but if they fail to supervise and train their volunteers and employees and fail to protect the children in their care, or if they do not report instances of sexual abuse, they could be held liable for enabling the abuse to continue. If you think you have a case, let our firm help you.

Contact Hoyt & Blewett PLLC to discuss your case with our experienced sex abuse attorneys in Montana.

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