CORYDON, Ind. (WDRB) -- A new Indiana law has changed the way schools report child abuse to authorities.

The law, co-authored by Indiana Republican State Sen. Mark Messmer and enacted July 1, now requires school staff to report any suspected incidents of child abuse to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.

Prior to July, staff had to report incidents to the principal who would then tell authorities.

“We have met with our administrative team, and we have talked through the procedures," said South Harrison Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge. "We said, ‘OK, how would our procedures look different with this new law in place?'"

Eastridge said the direct contact to authorities will now take out the middle man and open even more lines of communication through staff, especially teachers.

“We do know that the teachers are often the first line of defense in observing child abuse situations,” Eastridge said.

Sharlane Cotton, who has two daughters who attend school in Corydon, said the new law is additional piece of mind while giving a voice to those too scared to speak up.

“I think it’s a teacher being an advocate for the child, because a lot of times the child does not have anyone else," Cotton said. "If they are being abused in the home, that is the only person they may see to be able to tell that to."

Specifics on training will be completed in the next 12 months in time to start the 2018 school year.

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