A Pennsylvania task force created after the Jerry Sandusky scandal has given legislators a hefty load of recommendations to review, urging an overhaul of how Pennsylvania defines abuse and earmarking funding for children’s advocacy centers, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 11-member Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection calls for expanding requirements regarding who must report suspected child abuse to outside investigators, increasing penalties for failure to report suspected abuse and tracking abuse reports at the state level instead of county-by-county.
“We attempted to be bold [ ] but also realistic,” said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who chaired the task force. “We tried to do the very best we could to improve a system that is woefully failing in a number of ways.” Doctors suggested broadening how abuse is defined, as well as including cases where the perpetrator could not be identified in state victim statistics. The list of those required to report abuse suspicions should grow to include coaches, attorneys, college administrators, librarians and anyone else working or volunteering in a role that brings them in regular contact with children, the panel said. Schools should no longer have a different set of requirements for child abuse reporting, and instead should require teachers and personnel both to report abuse suspicions to an outside agency as well as to tell their supervisors.