Penn State Lesson: What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse of a Child

By Scherer, Ron | The Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Penn State Lesson: What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse of a Child


Scherer, Ron, The Christian Science Monitor


Whether or not Mike McQueary told police of the alleged sexual assault of a young boy, the Penn State scandal raises the issue of how to handle such cases. Every US state has its own laws.

Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary's assertion, now disputed by police, that he talked to the police after the alleged sexual assault of a young boy by former coach Jerry Sandusky raises the important question: What is the right way to handle such cases?

It turns out that every state in the nation has its own specific laws on reporting the sexual abuse of a child. If there is any unifying theme, it is that the person who has "reasonable cause" to believe a child has been abused must notify law enforcement officials and child welfare agencies. People who work in certain fields or at certain institutions have to notify their boss, who is then required to report the abuse, usually within 48 hours.

"Anybody may report it," says Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va. "States want people who are in a position to become aware of child sexual abuse to report" their allegation.

Almost every state also lists specific professions, especially those licensed by the state, that are expressly required to notify both the police and child welfare agencies.

For example, the state of Vermont lists 34 different professions or jobs in which instances of child abuse or neglect must be reported within 24 hours. This includes such professions as doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, librarians, social workers, camp counselors, and clergy.

But Vermont is even more specific for certain professionals who are required to report any abuse immediately. This includes 15 specific types of jobs such as any involved in medicine, hospital work, teaching, child care, or social work.

Yet other states, such as Washington, include any adult who has reasonable cause to believe that a child who resides with them has suffered severe abuse. The state of Tennessee requires any neighbor, relative, friend, "or any other person" who knows about sexual abuse or has a reasonable cause to suspect it.

Some states, however, including New York and Pennsylvania, require individuals in institutions such as schools to report abuse to the person in charge, not the authorities. Then, the person in charge - in Penn State's case, the athletic director and the individual in charge of the Campus Police - are required to notify the police and child welfare agency.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Penn State Lesson: What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse of a Child
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?