ATrain Education

 

Continuing Education for Health Professionals

Kentucky: Domestic Violence

Module 13

Kentucky Legislation and Reporting Requirements

Legislation

Kentucky’s Adult Protection Act (KRS 209), passed in 1976, requires the reporting of known or suspected incidences of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and it was expanded in 1978 to include mandatory reporting and provision of voluntary protective services to spousal abuse victims. Changes in 2005 specifically addressed protection for victims of domestic violence with KRS 209A.

In 1996 legislation was enacted that mandated training about domestic violence for nurses and some other healthcare professionals (KBN, 2013).

An important recourse for domestic violence victims is protective orders, and KRS 403 deals with the purpose of, types, and procedures for obtaining protective orders. These are intended “to allow persons who are victims of domestic violence and abuse to obtain effective, short-term protection against further violence and abuse in order that their lives will be as secure and as uninterrupted as possible” and to make it easier for law enforcement officers to respond to domestic violence and abuse incidents and to give them authority to immediately apprehend violators (KRS 403.715(1)). “Any family member or member of an unmarried couple who is a resident of this state or has fled to this state to escape domestic violence and abuse” may file a petition for a protective order (KRS 403.725(1)).

In many states, general stalking statutes have not kept up with new electronic technologies. However, in 2009 cyberstalking was made a crime in Kentucky by the addition of “computers, the Internet or other electronic” devices to the definitions within the law prohibiting stalking (KRS 508.130–150).

Legislation in 2010 brought a noteworthy expansion of enforcement options against perpetrators of domestic violence when it included, among other things, the ability for “judges to order those who violate a domestic violence order to wear a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device. . . [and] extend[ed] the continuance of an un-served emergency protective order for 6 months, rather than the current 90 days” (WFIE, 2010).

Since then, legislation to extend the right to obtain protective orders to dating partners has been proposed in each legislative session, but has not passed. The legislation is expected to be proposed again in the 2014 legislature (Autry, 2013).

Reporting Requirements

All suspected cases of domestic violence (including child, elder/adult, and spouse abuse) are to be reported to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). During normal working hours local Protective Services should be contacted, but at all other times call 1-877-597-2331 for child abuse and 1-800-752-6200 for adult abuse. (See Resources at the end of the course for additional numbers and contact information.)

Child Abuse

“If you believe a child is being abused, neglected or is dependent, you should call the Child Protection Hot Line at 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331) or the Protection and Permanency office in your county” (KCHFS, 2013a). A list of contact information for those offices is available here.

Elder Abuse

Did you know. . .

If you suspect elder abuse, you are legally required to report it (CHFS, 2013b).

The DCBS offers this guidance for anyone who is concerned about possible elder abuse:

If you believe that an elderly person is in imminent danger, call 800-752-6200 or your local law enforcement agency immediately. If the person is not in imminent danger but you are suspicious, watch the way the caregiver acts toward the elderly or disabled person. Look for a pattern of threatening, harassing, blaming or making demeaning remarks to the person—or isolating the person from family members and friends. Watch for an obvious lack of helpfulness or indifference, aggression or anger toward the person. Listen for conflicting stories about the elderly or disabled person’s illnesses or injuries.” Know the signs of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, and financial abuse. (CHFS, 2007)

A detailed list of many of the signs of self-neglect, caregiver neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse are provided on the CHFS Elder Abuse Awareness website here.

Intimate Partner Abuse

Kentucky Revised Statue 209A.030 states the following:

  1. Any person, including, but not limited to, physician, law enforcement officer, nurse, social worker, cabinet personnel, coroner, medical examiner, alternate care facility employee, or caretaker, having reasonable cause to suspect that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect, or exploitation, shall report or cause reports to be made in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Death of the adult does not relieve one of the responsibility for reporting the circumstances surrounding the death.
  2. An oral or written report shall be made immediately to the cabinet upon knowledge of the occurrence of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult. Any person making such a report shall provide the following information, if known: The name and address of the adult, or of any other person responsible for his care; the age of the adult; the nature and extent of the abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including any evidence of previous abuse, neglect, or exploitation; the identity of the perpetrator, if known; the identity of the complainant, if possible; and any other information that the person believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  3. Upon receipt of the report, the cabinet shall take the following action as soon as practical:
    1. Notify the appropriate law enforcement agency;
    2. Initiate an investigation of the complaint; and
    3. Make a written report of the initial findings together with a recommendation for further action, if indicated.

In January 1996 the Kentucky Attorney General rendered a written interpretation of the law at the request of a physician. This document known as Ky. OAG 96-6 may also be of help to nurses wishing clarification of the law. The full text may be found on the attorney general’s website by searching “opinion 96-6.”

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