Lessons From the Sandusky Case
Children should be far better protected under a raft of reform bills that the State Legislature has begun enacting with Gov. Tom Corbett’s support, including a child abuse definition in line with other states. It defines abuse as bodily injury of any kind, including sexual assault, and lists assorted acts — kicking, biting, burning, forcefully shaking infants — often deemed beyond the law. Other changes broaden the definition of who can be held responsible in abuse cases and require greater coordination among government agencies in investigating complaints.
As noteworthy as these reforms are for the general abuse problem, an important element in the Penn State scandal — the cover-up orchestrated by university administrators of early complaints about Mr. Sandusky’s predatory behavior — will not be fully addressed until the Legislature returns next year. The former university president and two administrators are currently on trial for allegedly lying to authorities to evade responsibility.
A pending bill would mandate the prompt reporting of suspected abuse to government officials. The measure is meant to prevent the kind of in-house secrecy that compounded the Sandusky crimes. Mandatory reporting is essential to any meaningful response to the scandal, and it deserves legislative approval.