This Washington

Kohl-Welles Proposes "Sandusky Bill"

By Erica C. Barnett January 13, 2012

State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36), prompted by the recent child-molestation scandal involving former Penn State head football coach Jerry Sandusky, has proposed legislation that would require administrative, athletic, and academic employees of public and private universities to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the police or the state Department of Social and Health Services. Additionally, any university employees who do not fit under those categories would have to report any suspected abuse to their superiors.

Currently, only certain people, known as mandated reporters, are required by law to report suspected abuse, including counselors, law enforcement officers, public school professionals, and registered nurses.

Kohl-Welles says that although she doesn't know if "we've had a problem, per se, in our colleges, but I'm one who likes to prevent problems." Noting that there have been a number of abuse cases at the local school level, Kohl-Welles adds, "I would not be surprised to find out that there had been issues" on college campuses. "We have more children on college campuses than ever before---more sports camps, programs where there's outreach to kids, bringing them to colleges around the state.

"It's reasonable to expect that when we have more children on campus, we should make sure that the colleges and universities have a process in place in case there are any issues that arise."

Kohl-Welles says she is not aware of legislators in any other state, including Pennsylvania, introducing legislation that goes as far as hers to require reporting of suspected child abuse on college campuses.
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