In response to the Penn State University scandal over the alleged sexual abuse of children, one of New Jersey’s U.S. senators is introducing legislation to strengthen abuse reporting laws.
Laws for reporting child abuse vary from state to state. Sen. Robert Menendez wants every state to make failing to report abuse to law enforcement and child protective services a felony.
“If common sense doesn’t dictate when and to whom an adult should report child abuse, this law will. I mean the bottom line is pretty simple,” Menendez said Tuesday. “If you see something, you’re obligated to say something.”
Menendez said the circumstances at Penn State, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with several instances of sexually abusing young boys, prompted him to push for the nationwide reporting requirements.
Two Penn State administration officials, who also have been charged, are accused of not reporting alleged abuse on the campus to law enforcement.
Menendez’s proposal calls for states that don’t enact the reporting standards to lose their federal social services funding.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey asked Tuesday for a hearing into how federal laws apply to the investigation of the Penn State case.
In a letter to Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Richard Burr, Casey said he wants an expedited hearing in the Subcommittee on Children and Families to see how well federal laws protect children and to ensure that provisions for reporting suspected cases are in place.