The Penn State Scandal and the resulting trial of Jerry Sandusky shocked the nation and tarnished a football legacy. Many are left wondering what they can do to keep something like this from ever happening again and Georgia lawmakers have certainly taken notice.
In April legislators amended House Bill 1176 to broaden the pool of mandated reporters, people required to report suspected child abuse or neglect by law, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Before the amendment was passed, Georgia law only named teachers, doctors and other professionals mandated reporters. Mandated reporters now include parent chaperones and volunteers at clubs, churches and other organizations. Failure to report suspected child abuse is a misdemeanor and could result in a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
The law will take effect July 1; one week after the reading of Sandusky’s guilty verdict. Many organizations are retraining volunteers about the law’s new requirements. Interfaith Children’s Movement and Stewards of Children offer training to teach volunteers how to correctly identify and report child abuse.
But is it enough? Can a law change a culture of silence so engrained it kept an entire football program silent about known abuse for years?
After the Catholic Church faced its own sex abuse scandal almost a decade ago similar laws were passed and training implemented, but for what? Now in 2012, we’re having the same conversation and using the same methods to combat abuse, and to what effect? Why is the focus on reporting abuse after it happens? What can be done to make sure it never happens in the first place? I don’t know the answer, but I hope we work to find one before the next Jerry Sandusky preys on another child.