The government’s census workers are out and about in South Florida neighborhoods and beyond, going door to door and being invited into homes, but a little-known law is being criticized by local child advocates.
Under the law, census workers can’t say anything about or report sex abuse, child abuse, or any type of abuse of kids they may get a whiff of while visiting a home.
In fact, Federal law not only prohibits them from speaking out, but anyone who does could get a $5,000 fine and five years in jail if they do.
In Florida, teachers, doctors, nurses, the clergy, and law enforcement officers must report child abuse when they see it.
Lissette Labrousse, attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, said there’s a reason for the law.
“The Federal law is designed to have people come forward and speak to census workers without fear,” said Labrousse. “Under the law it is required that the census worker keep everything confidential, they cannot release any information to any government agency.”
The census told NBCMiami that it’s very unlikely one of its workers would run across abuse, but if they did the law stops them from reporting it.
But child advocates claim the law hurts their efforts to get the public to come forward anytime children are being abused.