Almost a quarter of a million students in Pennsylvania attend schools that have outdated or missing policies dealing with suspected child abuse.
Today, the state’s auditor general calling those schools out and calling for them to take action.
244,000 students in the state attend schools that lack updated policies on reporting child abuse. Before 2014, school personnel were only required to report abuse or neglect concerns to a supervisor. Now, the public school code requires them to first call Childline, the state’s child abuse hotline, to report any concerns.
Cathleen Palm, Founder for the Center for Children’s Justice, says, “So, it’s a big shift to say the first place you go is outside the institution, then you tell inside.”
Since 2014, about 79% of school districts have updated their policies to reflect this change, leaving 21% who had not.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says, “That is 106 districts. More than one-fifth of the state’s total. And where more than 244,000 children attend school.”
Those districts include Harrisburg city, Lampeter Strasburg, and West Perry. While the auditor general points out that there is no evidence of any children being harmed, the lack of updated policies still needs to be addressed.
“It is as if they have not learned a single thing from the Jerry Sandusky debacle.”
But, one district had no policy whatsoever, Susquenita School District in Perry County. They are now working with the School Board’s Association to adopt a policy.
DePasquale says, “That is, at least, some semblance of good news, but still kind of amazing that it took this long”.