HARRISBURG, Pa., June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) today thanked the state Senate for passing Senate Bill 449, which would require teachers and other school personnel to be trained in recognizing and reporting child abuse.
"This is a huge victory for Pennsylvania's children, a significant step forward in protecting the children of Pennsylvania," PFSA Angela Liddle said.
The bill now awaits signature by the governor in order to be enacted into law.
Senate passage came in the wake of a series of guilty verdicts in the nationally publicized sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
"We have worked long and hard to support this legislation and we salute the many legislators and advocates who helped make this possible, including state Sen. Pat Vance of Cumberland County, who was one of the original sponsors."
PFSA is a nonprofit agency that trains more than 8,000 professionals annually in how to recognize and report suspected child abuse.
"Training is a key element in making sure that vigilance against child abuse is effective," Liddle said. "School personnel need to understand how abuse manifests itself and how to make proper reports to the authorities. The past year, with the tragic circumstances surrounding the Sandusky case, make that need abundantly clear."
The law allows school employees to receive credits toward their continuing profession education requirements for taking the training. Under the bill, a minimum of three hours of training would be required every five years.
The training requirement would apply to personnel at public schools, charter schools, cyber schools, private schools, nonpublic schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools.
Liddle said state statistics show that schools are by far the largest single source of abuse reports from "mandated reporters"—professionals who have regular contact with children by virtue of their jobs.
More than 24,000 reports of suspected child abuse were filed in Pennsylvania in 2011, according to the state Department of Public Welfare, and of those more than 3,400 were substantiated. DPW said 34 children died from abuse in Pennsylvania in 2011.
"We know we have much more to do," Liddle said. "This is a good first step. The people of Pennsylvania are now much more aware of the occurrence of child abuse and the damage that it does. We need to keep at the good fight."
In testimony earlier this month before the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, Liddle said, "We need to address training as part of initial and ongoing certification and licensure requirements" for professions that regularly work with and come into contact with children.
In addition to providing training for mandated reporters, PFSA is the Pennsylvania sponsor of The Front Porch Project®, a community-based training initiative that educates the general public about how to protect children from abuse.
PFSA also works with more than 50 affiliate agencies across Pennsylvania to provide information, educational materials, and programs that teach and support good parenting practices.
Visit the PFSA website at www.pa-fsa.org.
SOURCE PA Family Support Alliance