A milestone in protecting Pennsylvania’s children

July 30, 2012

By Angela Liddle

The enactment of Senate Bill 449 into law, which now requires teachers and other school personnel to be trained to recognize and report child abuse, is the culmination of nearly five years of effort by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA)—an effort that began well before the Jerry Sandusky case thrust child abuse into the national spotlight.We  are a statewide nonprofit agency that annually trains more than 8,000 “mandated reporters” in how to recognize and report suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters are professionals who have regular contact with children by virtue of their jobs.

 Pennsylvanians should be grateful to everyone who had a hand in bringing this to fruition—including the members of the House and Senate; Gov. Tom Corbett, who  signed the legislation into law earlier this month; and in particular state Sen. Pat Vance of Cumberland County, who got behind this measure from the very beginning. 

PFSA began working with Vance on legislation for required training of school personnel in November 2009. Final passage came shortly after a series of guilty verdicts in the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Obviously we are very gratified that we have finally achieved what we regard as an important milestone in protecting the children of Pennsylvania but we also recognize that there is much more to be done. Now we’re busy working to provide the training as part of initial and ongoing certification and licensure requirements for professions that regularly come into contact with children. Training is key in making sure that vigilance against child abuse is effective. School personnel and other mandated reporters, such as physicians and members of the clergy, need to understand how abuse manifests itself and how to make proper reports to the authorities.