In November 2011, news about the Penn State child sex scandal broke. In its aftermath, many institutions of higher learning have implemented new background screening policies, especially for those individuals working with minors. And a number of other schools are reviewing and making changes to their policies.
Nearly three years later, an opinion piece in The Daily Collegian reflects on the number of changes made in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and believes that these changes will help prevent child abuse on college campuses across the state. The changes include:
- Requirements by the State System of Higher Education that staff and students working with minors at state Pennsylvania schools must pass a criminal background check;
- Those working with minors will also receive additional training about issues and policies, as well as first aid; and
- Suspected child abuse must be reported to a university-designated person, as well as to the Department of Public Welfare.
While Penn State is not part of the state system and those requirements do not apply to it, the school has implemented many changes since the scandal, which include:
- A new background check policy in 2012 that led to thousands of additional background checks than were done the year before;
- Requirements that everyone working with minors undergo a background check;
- Annual training; and
- Requirements to report suspected abuse to the Department of Public Welfare within a specific timeframe.
We concur with the article that the changes made are steps in a positive direction. What Penn State and the other universities cannot do is stop now, believing all is complete with their current background policy. It’s not. Things change, and regular review of policies and procedures, then making any necessary changes, is vital to keeping everyone on campus safe.