Task Force Digital Images Of Child Abuse Neglect
The act defines the terms 'child's private areas', 'digital image', and 'visible in plain sight on the child'.
The 21-member task force includes the executive director of the state department of human services or his or her designee, the child protection ombudsman, an attorney representing the office of the child's representative, an attorney representing the respondent parents' counsel, a representative of the attorney general's office, a representative of the Colorado district attorneys' council, 5 members appointed by the governor, 5 members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, and 5 members appointed by the president of the senate. The act specifies the qualifications for the appointed members. The task force members must be appointed on or before September 1, 2016.
The task force shall consider:
- The constitutional standards, case law, statutes, rules, practices, and standards in Colorado, if any, that govern:
- How an employee of a county department of human or social services who has open involvement with a child takes, maintains, and disseminates digital images of a child, including the child's private areas, to document the abuse or neglect or the absence of abuse or neglect; and
- How a government employee takes, maintains, and disseminates digital images of a child's body, including those areas that are visible in plain sight and those that are private areas;
- Whether criteria or standards that government employees follow when documenting evidence of suspected child abuse or neglect through digital images balance the need to collect evidence with the need to protect the privacy and constitutional rights of both parents and of children;
- The safeguards used by a government employee to ensure the best interests of children when documenting evidence of suspected child abuse or neglect through digital imagery;
- The role of law enforcement agencies in conducting a child abuse or neglect assessment or investigation jointly with county departments pursuant to cooperative agreements and whether there are best practices that have been developed in cooperative agreements relating to the collecting, sharing, and handling of digital images;
- How governments and medical professionals collaborate during assessments or investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect to collect, transmit, and share evidence, including digital images, without slowing down the process and while ensuring that there is no impediment to the child's safety;
- Whether the statute authorizing the taking of color photographs of children should be amended to include all types of digital images and what precautions should be taken regarding the transmission and storage of digital images of children;
- The statutes, rules, and policies that govern the taking of digital images of children's bodies, including private areas, on personal or government-owned cell phones, cameras, or other equipment and safeguards in place to guide government employees on how to take, maintain, and disseminate digital images;
- Whether digital images of children that may be used as evidence in cases of criminal child abuse should be transmitted and stored through the statewide discovery sharing system and what safeguards should be developed on the transmission and maintenance of digital images through that system;
- The statutes, rules, and policies governing the audiotaping and videotaping of child interviews; and
- The best practices followed in other states or recommended by national child welfare experts for child welfare caseworkers to follow when collecting evidence of suspected child abuse or neglect through digital imagery to document evidence or absence of evidence of child abuse or neglect; collaborating with and sharing in the dissemination of evidence with law enforcement agencies, medical professionals, and any other agencies legally authorized in the investigation of child abuse or neglect; referring a child for medical examinations; and maintaining, storing, and safeguarding digital images of children.
The task force shall consider and recommend:
- The best practices and procedures that government employees should use when documenting evidence of suspected abuse or neglect on a child's body, including areas that are not visible in plain sight on the child or that are private areas of a child or both; and
- The best practices and procedures that government employees should use when observing or assessing a child's private areas or collecting digital images or other evidence of suspected abuse or neglect.
The task force shall study the following sequence of events and recommend best practices when a government employee seeking to view or document evidence of suspected child abuse or neglect of private areas of the child:
- Is required to obtain the consent of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child; or
- Is required to obtain the consent of a child who is 15 years of age or older and less than 18 years of age in addition to obtaining the parent, guardian, or legal custodian's consent; or
- Must obtain a court order to have the child examined and evaluated by an independent medical provider, a sexual assault nurse examiner, or the child's own physician, if the parent, guardian or legal custodian, or the child, if between the ages of 15 and 18, refuses to give consent; or
- May proceed in examining and photographing the private areas of the child without the parent's consent or the child's consent and without a court order based upon a reasonable belief that exigent circumstances exist that constitute a medical emergency or based upon a reasonable suspicion that the child needs treatment or is in immediate threat of serious bodily injury.
The task force shall submit an initial written report on its findings and progress to the governor, the state department of human services, the child welfare training academy, the Colorado association of chiefs of police, the county sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado medical society, the joint budget committee, and the house public health care and human services committee and the senate health and human services committee, or any successor committees, on or before December 1, 2017. The task force shall submit a final written report with its findings and recommendations for administrative changes and legislative changes, if any, to those same officials and entities on or before December 1, 2018.
The task force is repealed, effective July 1, 2019.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)