Reforming Mandated Reporting Laws After Sandusky

Starla J. Williams


September 4, 2012

Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Forthcoming
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-16

This article explores the intersection of poverty, power, and privilege in the child protection system that contributed to the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University. The article first reviews the facts underlying the case of former Penn State football coach Gerald A. Sandusky, who was convicted on forty-five counts of child sexual abuse. It also offers insight into the actions of former University leaders whose nondisclosure and active roles in the cover up of child sexual abuse resulted in disgrace to one of the nation’s premier college athletic programs. Next, the article considers the irony in the failure to report child sex abuse involving disadvantaged youth at Penn State when children living in poverty are generally over-reported for suspected child abuse; hence, former Penn State leaders created invisible victims of underprivileged youth who are typically overly visible to child protective services. The article sets forth the rationale for mandated reporting laws by drawing a correlation between moral, social, and economic forces within the child protection system. Examples of inequities in the child protection system which underscore the maltreatment of underprivileged youth at the heart of the Penn State scandal are also presented. The article identifies numerous shortfalls in Pennsylvania’s mandated reporting law that are relevant to the defense of two ex-Penn State officials who were indicted for perjury and failure to report allegations against Sandusky. The article proposes viable legislative reform to address these statutory shortfalls and concludes with a call to action to ensure accountability for mandated reporters and create equity in systems protecting children and youth.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

JEL Classification: K10, K20, K40

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Date posted: September 5, 2012 ; Last revised: September 6, 2012

Suggested Citation

Williams, Starla J., Reforming Mandated Reporting Laws After Sandusky (September 4, 2012). Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Forthcoming; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-16. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141295

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Starla J. Williams (Contact Author)
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United States
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