|Beaver Stadium, Penn State University Main Campus
November 3, 2011
I wrote part of this post yesterday morning while sitting in a Panera Bread in Altoona, Pa., a mere 43 minutes from Penn State’s main campus.
These days, I’m up in this area fairly often. I took this photo of Penn State’s football stadium last Thursday, not even a week ago, when I was visiting the campus for work. “Heading out to Penn State to spend the day in the happiest of valleys!” I facebooked, for the benefit of my more-than-a-few-bleeding-blue-and-white-friends. “Spectacular day at PSU, here at a little stadium.”
On Thursday, it was so damn easy to be in awe of the place – even if you, like me, have even the remotest of connections to Happy Valley. Thursday was my first stop at Penn State since 1989, when I called myself a Penn Stater for one memorable summer semester. Home for college summer break would have meant a new part of a new state where I knew only one soul, and I wanted to experience a bigger school than that of the 110 rolling acres where I was enrolled.
“Yes. I’m telling you, ANYONE WITH A LICENSE.”
“Well, I’m a licensed beautician. Does that mean ME? If someone says something, do I need to call the police?”
“Yes. You have a license.”
Before we go any further, this FAQ page explains in simple, easy to understand language who is a mandated reporter in Pennsylvania. (And in my opinion, if you look at question #4, I think that’s your answer right there about whether JoePa had a legal obligation to pick up the phone.)
Hell, let’s just reprint it here.
Q: Am I a mandated reporter if I learn of the abuse from other than the child who was legally abused?
Yes. The child need not come before you directly in your professional or official capacity, but must be under the care, supervision, guidance or training of an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which you are affiliated. In your personal life, you may report a case as a non-mandated reporter.
Q. Do I have to know for sure that a child was abused?
No. Your responsibility is to make the report when you suspect a child is being abused. The county Children and Youth caseworker will conduct an investigation and determine whether the child was abused.
There you go. As for you people living elsewhere, this might be helpful. Finally, there’s a National Child Abuse Hotline which can be reached at 1-800-4-ACHILD. Can’t get much easier than that.
My opinion? I think that the majority of the public is clueless (or chooses not to think about this) and that the Penn State scandal illuminates the fact that people simply don’t know what their legal obligations are – or, like the patron at Panera, they’re downright confused or have only some of the facts.
The Husband believes that people know they should call the police.
I believe that, sad as it may be, people need to be TOLD that they need to do the right thing – and what the right thing is.
So, as clear as the language is in the FAQs I provided above (from Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania), let’s boil it down even further, so that there is no misunderstanding the next time someone tells you that they “think they saw” or “weren’t sure of what they saw” or whatever.
Yes, there are certain people because of their professions who are held to a higher standard for reporting requirements and what have you. But no matter who you are, or how you earn your paycheck, or whether you hold a license to hunt or dog-sit or to cut hair, YOU HAVE A MORAL AND ETHICAL OBLIGATION to give voice to those who are being victimized, who can’t speak for themselves. And don’t tell me these traumatized kids of 8 years old and whatnot should have said something – because the majority of child abuse victims NEVER say a word – and why? Because they’re scared, they’re in the grip of people who are Important, they see what happens when you speak up and that in the end, nothing happens.
Penn State’s a place where the very culture has placed people on pedestals for decades, and it is truly that culture of myth-making and creating gods while protecting one’s image and brand that has brought that institution to its worst day of reckoning. I don’t know if Penn State ever truly recovers from this. But I know this:
If this case leads the mere mortals among us to realize that everyone is a mandated reporter, that we all have the responsibility to raise up our own consciousness, to speak up for what is right and moral, then it will be just one win in a game that will continue to be played until the end of time.
copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.