In light of the chaos surrounding Penn State and the child sex abuse conviction of Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator of the Nittany Lion football team, the world has been exposed to disturbing and traumatic incidents no adult, let alone a child, should be exposed to.
Another sad side of the turmoil in Happy Valley is the alleged failure of the Penn State administration, notably former head football coach Joe Paterno, to act appropriately when it was essential to protect the well-being of innocent children.
Like the rest of the nation, Hancock County administrators and athletic directors have paid attention to the scandal. As such, it has given them reason to review their own policies even more stringently to protect student-athletes as much as possible.
Indiana law is clear on the duty of individuals to report child abuse or neglect. Indiana Code 31-33-35-1 states, “…an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report as required by this article.”
IC 31-33-35-2 pertains, in part, to the reporting responsibilities of those in charge of schools: “A member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency … shall immediately notify the individual in charge of the institution, school, facility, or agency.”
The laws apply to all manner of potential contact between adults and youths, but in perhaps no area of public education are grown-ups more entrusted with other people’s children than in the athletic arena. A teacher, for example, would likely have no legitimate excuse for seeing a youth in a shower, for example, but it’s par for the course for athletic coaches. And a band instructor would never lay hands on a student, but a wrestling coach would theoretically have good reason to show a youngster a proper wrestling technique.