Schools Study Lessons from Penn State Scandal

Judy Hartnett's picture
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As the Penn State University child sexual-abuse scandal unfolded, Millersville University President Francine G. McNairy sent out a missive across her own campus.

Children visiting Millersville's campus need to be protected from abuse, she wrote. Anyone who hears about or knows about possible child abuse on campus should immediately contact university police. "If you are witnessing what appears to be an act of sexual abuse of a child, immediately call 911," she directed.

Safety-related concerns also could be reported to the university's threat assessment team. The university's policies and practices provide "appropriate avenues for all of us to do what we are required to do, as well as what basic human decency tells us we should do," McNairy declared.

The Penn State scandal has sparked a debate over who should be responsible for reporting abuse, and to whom suspected child abuse should be reported.

Meanwhile, school administrators are reviewing with staff members the mandatory reporting protocols they already have in place.

"This is certainly a teachable moment for our staff members, so probably like everybody else, we're going to take advantage of it," said Conestoga Valley School District Superintendent Gerald.

In school districts such as Conestoga Valley, Hempfield and Penn Manor, administrators sent out written reminders of their policies on mandatory abuse reporting, or directed principals to discuss the issue with teachers and other staff members.

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