Stephen St. Vincent, JD
Child abuse does not respect state lines, but investigating abuse can be obstructed by jurisdictional gaps. The procedures and policies for accepting and investigating child abuse and neglect allegations vary from state to state. As such, a child whose case is screened out because of cross-jurisdictional location can fall through the cracks if they are deemed the responsibility of another state. This project seeks to determine the extent to which cases of child abuse and neglect have been screened out—or not investigated—because they did not fall under the clear jurisdiction of one state or there is no interstate compact agreement.
Stephen researched child abuse reporting statutes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and identify jurisdictional parameters for each. This includes analyzing inconsistencies and discrepancies that could result in jurisdictional gaps. His research also looked at current policy and practice—surveying child welfare systems across the country to better determine their processes for receiving reports and conducting investigations of child abuse and neglect reports that occur across state lines. While much of the focus is on understanding the jurisdictional gaps, his research presented an opportunity to highlight promising practices that currently exist.
Stephen proposed solutions to jurisdictional gaps that exist, inform the development of stronger federal guidelines and better child protection practices at the state level.
Stephen received a JD from the University of Michigan Law School in 2011, where he analyzed jurisdictional issues and researched juvenile law, most recently as an intern at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. Stephen served on the Michigan Law Review’s Editorial Board and represented clients in the clinical programs at Michigan Law School. Stephen has also drafted legislation in response to a bill passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on “sexting” and “cyber-bullying”, conducting a 50-state survey on the issue. With a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Astronomy, Stephen has journeyed from the hard sciences to an interest in law, social policy and child well-being.