Lessons from Penn State: Training Mandated Reporters
By James R. Marsh on May 8, 2012
From a special edition of Centerpiece, the official newsletter of the National Child Protection Training Center:
The recent child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University, in which multiple, well-educated professionals declined to report clear evidence of maltreatment, is not an isolated instance. Twenty years of research documents what every child protection professional in America already knows—that most people most of the time won’t report even clear evidence of maltreatment or otherwise intervene to save a child.
Although less clear, the Penn State scandal also draws attention to an equally disturbing problem—that even when reports of abuse are made, these reports are often handled ineffectually if not incompetently. According to media reports of the Penn State scandal, investigators and prosecutors did review a 1998 report of inappropriate intimate contact with a boy.
The alleged perpetrator, Jerry Sandusky, even admitted to two university detectives that he hugged the boy while both were naked….
Although this recorded admission of Sandusky’s is an incriminating if not out-right confession of indecent contact with a boy, no charges or additional actions were taken.
The inability, even failure of criminal justice authorities to take meaningful action to protect a child is also not an isolated anecdote.