Penn State Sex Scandal Raises Questions About NJ Law [AUDIO]
The Penn State child sex abuse scandal, where some school officials knew about the allegations of Jerry Sandusky but failed to notify authorities, raises the question, what's the law in New Jersey for reporting such incidents?
Deborah Donovan-Rice, executive director of "Stop It Now", a national non-profit that works to prevent the sexual abuse of children, says as the case continues there will most likely be some adults who will step forward that had suspicions about Sandusky even prior to the first incident over a decade ago.
"That's when we want people to act, when we want adults to say, you know what, I'm not going to wait until I see something I'm going to do something now and find out what the policies are for my school."
Donovan- Rice says experience has taught us that actions by adults can be more effective than expecting kids to protect themselves from sexual abuse. Still, we know that children also need accurate, age-appropriate information about child sexual abuse and confidence that adults they know will support them. "Clear communication is a cornerstone of effective prevention. I know it sounds simple, but its really about talking about the issue in an open and honest way."
She says with a high profile case like this, it becomes a teachable moment for policymakers, "who have a chance to say all youth-serving organizations need to have child sexual abuse prevention procedures in place and they need to be trained in how to pick up on the warning signs...that's something we don't have in this country."
Lauren Kidd, spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, says the mandatory reporting law in New Jersey is clear, "in that it requires anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being or has been abused or neglected to report the suspected abuse or neglect to the Division of Youth and Family Services.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, people should call the Child Abuse Neglect Hotline at 1-877-NJ Abuse (1-877-652-2873). To keep kids safe, it is critical for anyone with reason to believe a child has been abused to call the Child Abuse Neglect Hotline."