Pa. Universities OK Child-Abuse Prevention Policy
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities adopted a policy Tuesday that is designed to protect the safety of children on campus, a concern that arose as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
The board of the State System of Higher Education adopted a set of guidelines that require staff and students who work with minors to pass a criminal background check and to receive policy and issue training.
The new policy covers the system’s 14 universities and goes into effect in January, but training will start before then.
It does not cover Penn State, where Sandusky coached, because Penn State is a state-related university and not part of the state system, governed by the board.
The former longtime assistant football coach at Penn State was convicted two years ago of sexual abuse of 10 boys, and is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term. Some of his victims were abused inside university facilities.
Penn State has since revised its policy on the supervision and treatment of minors on campus or involved in university-sponsored programs. A report commissioned by Penn State that was written by former FBI director Louis Freeh and his law firm recommended changes to the policy at the time.
“It is critical for institutions and organizations that provide programs and facilities for children to institute and adhere to practices that have been found to be effective in reducing the risk of abuse,” the Freeh report concluded.
The new policy for state-owned universities will require some people to be trained in first aid and in the detection and reporting of abuse or neglect. All employees, contractors and volunteers will be required to report suspected child abuse to the Department of Public Welfare and a designated person at the university.
The state system policy applies to administrators, faculty, coaches, staff, students, outside contractors and volunteers.
The state system universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester. It also operates branches in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and PASSHE Center City in Philadelphia.
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