To the Editor:
The recent article (“Penn State Scandal Shines Light on Laws for Reporting Abuse,” December 7, 2011.) summarized the need for strengthened legislation to protect children from possible abuse. The sex-abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University should provide impetus for all states to require more uniform reporting.
As an educator (teacher and principal) in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years, I know my colleagues and I were very aware of state laws that made us “mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.” My principal colleagues, counselors, and teachers did make mandated reports to the state hotline. Workers in agencies for children and youths worked hard to follow up on the reports either in homes or in schools. Investigations were done with strict guidelines of confidentiality.
Overall, I have seen countless children protected by the current laws, and I also realize the financial limits of what a county agency can do. Our Pennsylvania legislators do not provide adequate funding to the county children and youth agencies, and agency response varies greatly throughout the state. More children from Pennsylvania will benefit from funded agencies that monitor results of the mandated reports.
There were laws in place to protect the victims of the Penn State scandal, but for over 10 years, numerous educators at Penn State did not comply with the law. The collective silence displayed by the Penn State educators speaks to an urgent need for beacons of light to shine on the enforcement and funding of laws to protect children from all forms of abuse.
D&M Educational Consultants
A version of this article appeared in the January 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Uniform Standards Needed For Child-Abuse Reporting