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Penn State Promoting Ethical Awareness, Child Abuse Prevention

by on November 13, 2014 4:35 PM

Penn State wants its student athletes to be constantly aware of the consequences of their actions.

That's the message that Penn State Athletics Integrity Officer Julie Del Giorno delivered to members of the board of trustees Thursday. She spoke about the success of the university’s ongoing ethic workshops for athletes.

“Instead of just making an ethics compliance checklist, we’re trying to take a more deliberative approach to have people think about how their personal values and organizational values drive behavior when face with an ethical dilemma,” Del Giorno said.

Those workshops have included student athletes, faculty and staff along with a collaboration with other universities. Rather than give participants a series of lectures, Del Giorno says they are faced with a situation that presents a real-life, relatable moral dilemma.

Del Giorno says the athletes who have participated in the program have told her that they’ve encountered some of these dilemmas in their own lives, and now have a better understanding of how make decisions based on personal values.

“We try to drive the point home that we’re not judging people. It’s not saying, ‘here’s the right answer,’” Del Giorno said. “There are multiple right answers; that’s what makes it a dilemma – but they need to have awareness of the consequences of their actions.”

Penn State Director of Ethics and Compliance Regis Becker says the university has trained about 80 percent of its employees how to recognize and prevent child abuse. He says the university is on track to have all staffers trained before the end of the year

“We have about 150,000 minors on our campuses every year, so we have an obligation to ensure their safety,” Becker said. “We’re making sure our employees are trained to recognize child abuse and know where to go and how to report it.”

Becker says his office has also been working to make sure Penn State will remain in compliance with changes to state laws designed to protect children from abuse. Some of those changes include more frequent abuse prevention training and more stringent background checks for employees who work with kids.

He says Penn State has been coordinating its efforts with other universities to increase their understanding about how those laws impact institutions of higher education.

Becker says the university has also been working to make sure it's in compliance with other state and national laws. That includes the Clery Act, which requires university to release information about crimes on campus, and federal laws concerning international vendors and exports.

The board of trustees also went into executive session to discuss legal matters.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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