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Penn State Sets New Rules for Employees to Report Child Abuse

by on June 08, 2012 6:30 AM

Penn State released its new policy Thursday for employees to report suspected child sexual abuse.

It's another step forward for the university in making the campus a safer environment.

The new policy, AD-72, or "Reporting Suspected Child Abuse," provides guidelines for all Penn State faculty and staff to take the necessary steps if they have any suspicions a child is at risk.

According to Penn State's general university reference utility site, or GURU, employees must abide by the Pennsylvania state laws for reporting abuse.

Now, Penn State has added its own requirements.

"Penn State University requires all University employees who have reasonable suspicion of abuse to make a report, with an exception to any confidential communications made to a University-employed attorney, or confidential communication made to University-employed member of the clergy," according to GURU.

"If any University employee willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse, it will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal."

All Penn State employees are required to complete mandatory reporter training each year through the Office of Human Resources' Center for Workplace Learning and Performance.

GURU defines child abuse, as set forth in Pennsylvania state law, as an individual who is under 18 years old and has been subjected to:

  • Serious Physical Injury: must cause the child severe pain or it must significantly impair functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Serious Mental Injury: a condition diagnosed by a physician or licensed psychologist that renders the child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or in reasonable fear that his/her safety is threatened, or seriously interferes with the child's ability to accomplish age-appropriate developmental and social tasks.
  • Sexual Abuse or Exploitation: the use or coercion of any child to engage in any sexually explicit conduct, or any simulation of any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction, or the rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, prostitution, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation of children.
  • Serious Physical Neglect: any condition that arises from prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.
  • Imminent Risk: any act, or failure to act, that creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury or sexual abuse and exploitation of a child.

In March, Penn State hired Gabriel Gates as the new Clery Compliance Coordinator to ensure the university is running in accordance with the act.

Gates will assure that the university and its employees follow research protocols and other government, local and university mandates through research and offering guidance and recommendations, the university said.

"Gabe will work collaboratively with various offices at the University to develop, implement and oversee programs that ensure the institution's overall compliance with the Clery Act and associated regulations at all campuses," assistant vice president for Police and Public Safety Steve Shelow said.

"He also will work with various University offices to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Sexual Assault Victim's Bill of Rights and Drug Free Schools and Safe Campuses regulations."

Meanwhile, former FBI director Louis Freeh is expected to distribute his report to the Penn State Board of Trustees and to the public at large by the beginning of the next academic year.

The Freeh investigation is looking into whether there was any wrongdoing by Penn State that may have allowed a child predator to roam free on campus.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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