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DePasquale: Districts Lack Updated Child Abuse Policies

February 15, 2019
DePasquale: Districts Lack Updated Child Abuse Policies

More than 240,000 students across Pennsylvania attend school districts that lacked updated policies on reporting child abuse as of Feb. 1, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday, citing a review by his staff.

In 2014, the state responded to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State with new requirements to prevent local school officials from concealing suspected child abuse, DePasquale said in a news release. About 79 percent of school districts have updated policies that outline the required steps staff must take to report suspected child abuse and neglect, he said.

“That leaves 21 percent of districts without an updated policy that requires staff to report child abuse and neglect concerns directly to ChildLine, the state’s child-abuse hotline,” DePasquale said in the news release. “This is important because it means their teachers and support staff might not be properly trained to act as the first line of defense against abuse and neglect.”

School personnel are required to receive training that directs them to first call ChildLine to report any concern of abuse or neglect and then directs them to inform a designated school official. Prior to 2014, the only requirement was to report abuse or neglect concerns to a supervisor.

Last fall, DePasquale’s office began checking every school district in the state to see if updated policies were in place. Since then, 40 districts either implemented new policies or updated existing ones.

School districts that updated policy after being contacted the auditor general’s office to include direct reporting language include Dallas and Wilkes-Barre Area.

School districts that had a policy with outdated direct reporting language as of Feb. 1 include Greater Nanticoke Area, Hazleton Area, Northwest Area, Wyoming Area, Wyoming Valley West and Tunkhannock Area.

Pittston Area, Crestwood, Hanover Area, Lake-Lehman and Berwick Area were not noted on those lists by the auditor general’s office.

Contact the writer:

mbuffer@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer