Advocates Seek Intentional Reforms in Response to the Penn State Child Abuse Scandal
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Pennsylvania remains in a state of shock as a result of the allegations by at least eight children that they were sexually assaulted by a former Penn State University football coach. The victimization of these young people, the failure of adults to step in, and the ways in which laws may have permitted silence and inaction have led to outrage and calls for swift action.
On Monday, November 21st at 9:00 a.m. the Protect Our Children Committee will host a press conference in Harrisburg at the capitol rotunda.
Participants will individually express their own commitment that every child be able to live free from abuse and violence; and that as adults, they will pledge to nurture, listen and speak up for a child.
Pennsylvania is a statistical outlier in the investigation and determination of child abuse, i.e., it investigates child abuse 8.3 per 1,000 children versus 40.3 per 1,000 children nationally, and then determines a child is a victim of child abuse 1.4 per 1,000 children versus 9.3 per 1,000 nationally.
Within these statistics are stories of too many children who pay the price of policies and systems that too seldom are prevention-focused and child-centered. PA must deliberately examine and work with intention to improve core elements of how it prevents, defines, reports, investigates and treats child abuse to better ensure that the safety, well-being and permanency of every child is paramount. Included on Monday’s agenda will be calls to:
- Convene a Child Protection and Accountability Task Force. More than 60 organizations and individuals are seeking the creation of a bi-cameral, bipartisan task force, which was initially called for in April. It would provide a much needed objective and intentional examination of the core front-end elements of protecting children (e.g., how abuse is defined, reported and investigated, the pathway to services, etc.) and it can serve as the mechanism to coordinated legislative responses to the PSU scandal.
- Create an independent Child Advocate. Pennsylvania has well documented examples of how children have been negatively impacted by the absence of independent review and complaint resolution realized through a state level Child Advocate or Child Ombudsman.
- Require training for mandated reporters (persons legally obligated to report suspected child abuse). Mandated reporters have been front and center in the PSU child abuse scandal, but there remains no requirement for them to be trained on their role and responsibility.
- Reduce and monitor the missed calls at ChildLine. In 2010, Pennsylvania’s child abuse hotline – ChildLine – had a nearly nine percent rate of missed calls. ChildLine and its workforce are on the frontline of our child protection efforts; its operations and capacity must be understood and improved.
For additional details contact Cathleen Palm at 610-488-5059 or 717-215-1440. Learn more at www.protectpachildren.org
SOURCE The Protect Our Children Committee