Advocates push for Wisconsin to pass child abuse hotline bill, currently stuck in Assembly

Wisconsin is one of six states that does not have a law or policy requiring school districts to display the phone number for the child abuse and neglect hotline
Updated: Jun. 6, 2021 at 5:15 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Janice Bundas began a journey nine years ago to help child abuse victims.

“I was called to do so. It’s not a story I wanted to share that I had been molested as a child by multiple family members or people that I had been related to,” Bundas, a devout Christian, said.

Bundas lives in Stanton, Texas and she said God has guided her in her quest to get states to pass legislation requiring school districts to post the phone number for the child abuse and neglect hotline around school buildings.

“I had to ask what would’ve helped me as a child and if I had gone to school and seen the child abuse hotline number posted, I would’ve known good people wanted me to call that number,” she said.

Starting with her own state of Texas in 2013, Bundas’ effort has so far led to 44 states enacting such a law or policy.

“She has basically called and passed the bill in 44 states,” her son-in law Brent McCasland said during a video Zoom interview.

Only six states remain and they are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

“I don’t understand why anybody would not move forward with this legislation,” Bundas said.

According to 2019 data from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, girls were more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than boys with most of their abusers being men. The most common type of maltreatment Wisconsin children experienced was neglect.

State Sen. André Jacque, (R) De Pere, introduced Senate Bill 238, the child abuse hotline bill, in the senate where it passed and currently sits in the assembly.

“It’s just something that I think is going to result in being able to uncover child abuse at an earlier point in time, where we can hopefully mitigate some of those lifelong effects that otherwise occur,” Sen. Jacque said.

He is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Services, Children, and Families and said SB238 has bi-partisan support. He expressed optimism that it can pass the assembly.

“As a result of Covid-19 with so many schools closed, we had spikes in domestic violence and child abuse and a whole host of other issues because we didn’t necessarily have the same opportunities to be able to catch problems that were occurring,” Sen. Jacque said.

Advocates, including Bundas of Texas, are urging Wisconsinites to call their local legislators and urge them to support SB 238.

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