GREENBRIER, AR - Jackie Williams isn't just a teacher at Greenbrier High School. Legally speaking, she's also a mandatory reporter. That means if she sees or hears of a student being abused and does not act on it, she could go to jail for up to a year.
"We see so many kids every day and it's just, you know, you don't know if it's really happening or if it's kids talking," said Williams.
Wednesday, Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland spoke to more than 400 Greenbrier School District staff members about their obligations as mandatory reporters. It's a hot topic right now.
An ongoing civil suit claims teachers at Jim Stone Elementary School in Conway failed to report sexual abuses between students. Also, former Mount St. Mary Staff Member Kathy Griffin has a court date set in Pulaski County criminal court for the same thing.
Here are a couple things that surprised teachers today: did you know it's not enough to simply report abuse to a superior? A teacher actually has to pick up the phone and call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline.
Here's another one: even if teachers are off-duty, say they're on vacation in another part of the state, they're still considered mandatory reporters.
That means all of the Greenbrier School District teachers, Williams included, have to do a whole lot more than teach.
"Now," Williams said, "I mean you obviously have to make the phone call."
The Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline isn't just for mandatory reporters. Anyone who suspects child abuse is encouraged to call. The phone number is 1-800-482-5964.