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Kane report sheds light on child abuse reporting recommendations

Reported By: Gary Sinderson
Written By: Marc Stempka

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- It's been a week since Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane released her report on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse investigation, and while it generated a lot of debate, one section of the report has gone virtually unnoticed.

The section, 10 pages long, details recommendations on what law enforcement, human service agencies and others can do to better protect children against abuse.

The recommendations in the section get into specifics dealing with law enforcement agencies dealing with child abuse investigations, but other recommendations are more general.

Andrea Boyles, of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, has been on the frontlines of child abuse reporting, especially since the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the Centre region nearly three years ago.

Boyles said as long as child abuse is being discussed, whether as a continued result of the scandal or otherwise, it can be a benefit to children.

"As long as we're talking about it, I firmly believe children are safer because if children know adults can talk about it, then they can tell us they need help," Boyles said.

Some of the recommendations in Kane's report specifically deal with the Sandusky case. Others are already in play, including the state legislature acting on various issues tied to better reporting suspected abuse. Many of those laws go into effect within the next year.

"A lot of those new laws go into effect January 1, which means we'll have to do a great deal of training between now and then," Boyles said. "I heard last week in a meeting that the day before the Sandusky indictment there were two bills in the legislature that had the words child abuse in them. Today, I believe there is 120, so the legislature has really had to learn and act as many people have."

The Youth Service Bureau has received more calls for help and services in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Boyles said. The bureau has seen little increase in their operating budget and no increase in staffing.

That has led to the bureau partnering with other agencies to help kids in need, Boyles said. One of those programs has been the Stewards of Children.

Several agencies around Centre County have teamed up to put on seminars to help adults better recognize the signs of child abuse and to whom they should be reporting.

So far, more than 4,000 have completed the Stewards of Children program in Centre County.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times