December 8, 2011; Source: OC WeeklyIn California, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara is introducing legislation that would strip nonprofits of their tax-exempt status if they foster or cover up the sexual abuse of children.

"The call for action to deter nonprofits from covering-up, fostering, or failing to report abuse is clear," said Lara. "Nonprofit organizations at all levels—universities, faith-based or after-school programs—should be held accountable for their actions."

"While one would assume that nonprofit organizations, especially those that work with children, have our children's best interest at heart, experience has taught us that this is not always the case," Lara says.

"Time and time again, we have heard of reports of nonprofits that conceal and/or foster sexual abuse. To prevent further lives from being damaged and to deter nonprofits from concealing reports, legislation is needed to clarify and improve current sexual abuse reporting requirements."

Lara is not the only Californian attempting to add teeth to existing mandatory reporting laws.

Former legislator, Martha Escutia has called for state and federal lawmakers to pass laws that would revoke tax-exempt status for any nonprofit that is found by a criminal or civil court of law to have fostered, concealed, or failed to report child abuse or neglect. Churches and religious institutions are included in her proposal.—Ruth McCambridge