Matt Wingard blocks child abuse bill

Carla Axtman

I guess this shouldn't come as a huge surprise given his history, but sources are telling me that Rep. Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) will not allow Oregon House Bill 4016, which expands the list of mandatory reporters for child abuse, for a vote in the House Education Committee.

HB 4016 would apply only to those volunteers who had direct care and control of children outside the supervision of an otherwise mandatory reporter. The bill is supported by the Oregon District Attorney's Association and the Oregon Community College Association. Coalition of Oregon School Administrators representative Chuck Bennett also spoke favorably of the bill in committee last week. Stand For Children is expected to endorse the legislation as well.

So who's against the bill? The Oregon Christian Homeschooling Network who has posted action alerts to their members, resulting in an avalanche of emails and calls to legislators to stop the bill. They call it "repugnant" and say it will limit the church's ability to get volunteers. And they'll have to (gasp!) train people on how to report abuse.

Seriously. That's their argument. Go read it for yourself. Wingard is all too happy to pander to this crap.

The four Democrats on the committee have sent Wingard a letter, asking that he allow the bill to come up for a vote. This is happening, incidentally, in the House Education Committee, which Wingard made so notoriously dysfunctional last session.

This is ridiculous and Wingard deserves to hear about it.

His Oregon House office phone number: 503-986-1426

His email: [email protected]

Call his office. Write an email. Send the avalanche his way.

Comments

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    Ready for how onerous the training is? Lawyers take a one-hour course once every three years. A small price to pay, I think, under any view of it.

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      i asked Sara Gelser about this when she posted the bill's introduction on her FB page: why not just make everyone a mandatory responder? her reply to me:

      "Hopefully, everyone reports all the time. However, mandatory reporting laws increase reporting because it makes the responsiblity clear. I would support universal mandatory reporting, but it would be impossible to get that through the building. In this case, we are simply focusing on those who have direct care, control and supervision of children-- in other words the universe of people likely to be aware of abuse."

      Wingard has proven her point.

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    First, I think he should support the bill. Second, I don't have a problem with an amendment limiting the nature of the training to something relatively manageable (like signing a statement of understanding). Despite the comment above, the triennial training requirement for lawyers is dumb. We don't have to do triennial training on constitutional rights or any number of other equally or even more important issues. Also, if we can't remember it after the first time, we probably don't have much business practicing law. As they say, the devil is in the details. Child abuse reporting is good. Mandating training beyond a very minimal statement of understanding of the requirement is unnecessary.

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      Marshall, by your logic, lawyers shouldn't have to do the 45 hours of other continuing legal education every three years; why should I take an evidence CLE if I'm in trial?! It's a good refresher course, and having just done it at the end of 2011, I'd say it provided some good reminders.

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        By and large, you can take whatever you want for your 45 hours. There's a minimal ethics exception, the child abuse reporting one, and a diversity requirement. I support mandatory reporting. However, I don't support taking an ad hoc approach to continuing education. All three of those are important, but what makes them more important than any number of other topics? Really, the truth is that they were what the bar or legislature was interested in at the time they passed the requirement. There's never been a deliberate consideration of what is truly important. Setting aside legal education, let's take driver safety. There's no continuing ed requirement to have a license, but we are all required to know the rules of the road. No one can go to court and claim that they shouldget out of a ticket b/c they just didnt know about a rule. Should the Lege pass a requirement for mandatory ed on distracted driving, too? We don't need education requirements - we need high standards that we rigorously enforce.

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    Not surprising. Many of the right wing Christian fundamentalists don't believe in mandatory reporting of child abuse. They believe there should be pastoral and parental discretion on how these cases should be handled, and they don't believe that the govt. has a responsibility to protect children and a right to intervene to do so.

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        Certainly the behavioral history of the RCC clergy is that of ignoring mandatory reporting. But it has not been the public position of the RCC particularly after losing millions of dollars and many bankruptcy procedures. Whereas many conservative evangelicals hold a public position to this day opposing mandatory reporting.

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          So you're saying that one religious group is a little more unreasonable than the other. Fair enough.

          I'll add that the "behavioral history of the RCC" is that of oppressing women and non-heterosexuals.

          Somewhere out there in internet land is a debate between Chris Hitchens and a Catholic official on the question of whether the Catholic church has had a positive or negative impact. Really good stuff...Hitchens won the debate handily.

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      It's the "religious moderates" who lend credibility to the fantasy-based ideology of the "fundamentalists." Moderates also protect the "fundamentalists" by shielding their ideology from scrutiny. And aren't the "fundamentalists" the ones who are more knowledgeable about their religion, the Bible, the Koran, etc.? How is it the ones that supposedly have it wrong (the fundamentalists) are the ones that know the most about their faith-based ideology?

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    This is of course just the kind of lunacy that we should all expect from people whose understanding of right and wrong is based on religious fantasy.

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      Painting everyone with the same brush, are we? I have known plenty of nihilist secularists who think they are not accountable to any moral law, that it's all fantasy. But I wouldn't paint every secularist as a sociopathic nihilist.

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        "I have known plenty of nihilist secularists who think they are not accountable to any moral law"

        That's odd -- I've never known a single one. We must travel in different circles.

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        Let me try to simplify this for you Bill.

        When people's understanding of right and wrong is based on fantasy, i.e., everything was created by "God" and His word is in one handy book, you increase the odds for incredible idiocy like we see here and frankly every single day, e.g. Komen, contraception, faith-healers, etc. When we try to understand the world based on evidence/science, we decrease the odds for faith-based lunacy. Science-based ways of knowing don't guarantee anything, they just give our species the best chance for success. Just because you know "plenty of secular nihilists" doesn't mean that using evidence is equal to using fantasies to understand the world.

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          I don't wish to repeat this meaningless argument with you, Joshua since you have need to hold the demon religion responsible for every ill in the world. But even rational science does not provide a basis for moral law and the dignity and essential worth of human beings. That is a spiritual value regardless of one's affiliation or lack of it.

          I have the gist of your argument. Religionists and people of faith are responsible for all evil in the world, and even those "moderate religionists" who don't hold evil belief are evil because they provide political cover for those that do. Got that down, Joshua. Now, perhaps we can move on.

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            Oh Bill, there you go again. Nobody ever said religion/people of faith is responsible for every ill/evil in the world, that is just you twisting my words out of frustration. Please show me where I have made this claim if you disagree.

            It is your unsupported opinion that rational science can't determine moral law/values. Sam Harris actually wrote a nice short book on this subject called "The Moral Landscape." You should give it a read.

            Here's the problem Bill, you believe that faith-based ideology is inherently good and beyond the scope of rational discourse. Your wrong on both counts. If you want to "move on" you can stop responding to my comments

            Now perhaps you can stop trying to oppress honest criticism of fantasy-based belief systems.

          • (Show?)

            This clam that we need religion to figure out right and wrong or to "provide a basis for moral law" is not surprisingly faith-based.

            Our laws are of course a reflection of our moral views, our beliefs about right and wrong. Ironically, relative to your claim, lawyers, judges, cops, cannot use faith, but must use science/evidence instead to carry out the law...our moral laws. That what of course gives the system it's integrity.

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    In this case can't the GOP caucus remove Wingard from his chairmanship and facilitate the movement of the bill. If they don't, the entire GOP should be targeted for obstructing the protection of children and for aiding and abetting child abusers.

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    It's surprising that Rep. Wingard would take the lead on this, given his history.

    I have no personal experience with him, but there seem to be three likely explanations:

    1. He's taking a courageous stand.

    2. He views his seat as a safe seat, so it's not a politically risky move for him.

    3. He doesn't realize how bad this makes him look.

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      having watched him in action last session, esp the day the online supporters held a rally, Wingard sees himself as a martyr for the cause. he knows the secular humanists, not to mention the teacher unions, will fight him & Jesus as they try to bring choice & a healthy profit margin to parents & the online school corporations. he takes stands like this because after people have attacked him, he can climb up on his cross and let the blood flow down his body, proving the Truth of his stand.

      seriously.

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    And who originally appointed him: Washington County Commissioners Tom Brian, Andy Duyck and Roy Rogers voted for Wingard, calling him the most qualified candidate. So did Clackamas Commissioner Bill Kennemer.

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    Clarifying question:

    No. 27F says, "Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child, including but not limited to the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care that is likely to endanger the health or welfare of the child."

    Would this law require volunteers, etc. to turn in individuals/families who are homeless?

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      If you had a good reason to believe (reasonable suspicion ... less than probable cause) that the health or welfare of a child was in danger, then I'd say yes. And honestly, if a parent is so unable to care for a child due to economic circumstances, then the parent needs to get help, from the State or private sources.

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        "if a parent is so unable to care for a child due to economic circumstances, then the parent needs to get help, from the State or private sources."

        Haha! That's a funny one, considering the State of Oregon is gutting family assistance and other human services...

        To be clear, I'm all for the bill. This language just caught my eye. There are thousands, literally, of homeless school children, families, etc. in the State of Oregon. Not sure what the intent is, but should be clarified...

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          That's why my answer wasn't based upon the bare notion of someone being homeless; I suspect that many families who are homeless nonetheless would be able to say that their conditions do not constitute endangerment to their children. In other words, I'd never think that being homeless (a very broad standard under McKinney-Vento) means a child is endangered enough to be subject to mandatory reporting requirements.

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      Teachers and substitutes in Clackamas County are required to complete an annual online training on recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect that takes maybe an hour (along with several other trainings). Once I register, I am sent a link to the course and can do it at home, then the documentation is electronically sent to the ESD and or it can be printed. Delivering and taking the training is not rocket science, nor is it in any way a hardship.

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    Volunteers come from all backgrounds and all age groups. In our school district every volunteer must submit to a background check before receiving permission to work with students or even to be a guest speaker or stand in the gym as a sports volunteer.

    Strong board policy regarding loitering on school grounds are in place. As a board chair if I can walk through a school without anyone stopping me to ask for my district ID and asking me to sign in I'm ticked off.

    There is child abuse in every organization working with children. To think otherwise is just plain idiotic.

    Just another reason why Oregon is a Blue state and will continue to be thanks to guys like Wingard.

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    Let's be clear. Many fundamentalists [Christian and otherwise] believe Harry Potter and evolution science are more damaging to children than beating and terrorizing.

  • (Show?)

    Update: HB 4016 passed out of committee unanimously a few minutes ago. The dash-nine amendments were enough to satisfy the concerns raised by some of the representatives during prior public hearings and work sessions on the bill.

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