The first comprehensive overhaul of the state’s child protection laws, since Jerry Sandusky ‘s arrest and conviction, was unveiled on Monday. The sixteen bill package was introduced by a bipartisan group of state senators.
As the Jerry Sandusky saga went from rumor to arrest to conviction, flaws in the state laws became apparent. The General Assembly created a special task force on child protection to address the shortcomings.
The special task force met numerous times across the state last year taking testimony. In November, the group released a report and from those recommendations, came the legislation to implement them.
The proposals would update the definition of child abuse, clarify who must report child abuse, increase penalties for failure to report and establish a three-digit, statewide number for reporting child abuse.
Another provision would provide whistleblower protection, said Senator Bob Mensch. “I think we need to be able to remove these structures that allow someone with knowledge to be able to come forward, and be sure they’re not going to have consequences. You can’t always see the aftermath of child abuse, but when you see it happening such as coach McQueary, he should feel welcome to come forward and be able to report that.”
Jason Kutalakis, a Carlisle Attorney, has been a child advocate for 15 years and served on the special task force. He says this is a great step forward. “It’s refreshing to see Pennsylvania putting children first and become a leader in the nation, not only fight but to end child-abuse.”
Next month, the Senate’s Aging and Youth Committee and the Public Health and Welfare Committees will hold a joint public hearing. At that time additional comment on the package will be taken.
Source: Kirk Wilson, CBS News 21