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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Child Abuse Advocate: Reporting Bills Misguided

One child protection advocacy group is arguing against bills in the General Assembly that would legally require all Pennsylvania school employees to report suspected child abuse, and mandate reporting for anyone who witnesses abuse taking place.

One child protection advocacy group is arguing against bills in the General Assembly that would legally require all Pennsylvania school employees to report suspected child abuse, and mandate reporting for anyone who witnesses abuse taking place.

The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform contends that similar measures in 18 other states haven’t changed child abuse rates, and often lead to false accusations.

NCCPR Executive Director Richard Wexler said that the mandatory child abuse reporting bills spurred by the Penn State scandal would “terribly overload” child protective agencies in Pennsylvania.

Even now, nationwide, more than three-quarters of all reports alleging child abuse are false,” said Wexler. “So, workers for agencies like Allegheny County CYS are spending three-quarters of their time spinning their wheels.”

Wexler argued that child abuse investigations are very often traumatic for children, especially in cases of suspected sexual abuse. He said that there’s no reason to put a child through such procedures based on the “vague suspicion” of a school employee who’s worried about facing penalties for not reporting.

A reporting bill from Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Brookline) had been in development for years, and has now been thrust into the spotlight after allegations of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. A former graduate assistant claimed that he saw Sandusky raping a child in a shower.

If Senate Bill 549 were law, the graduate assistant’s responsibility would have been to contact police and/or child protective services immediately to report what he had seen,” said Fontana.

Beyond Senator Fontana’s bill, legislation planned for the House would require any Pennsylvanian who sees child abuse taking place to report it or face felony charges.

However, Wexler said that it’s very rare for someone to walk in on sexual abuse.

In any kind of situation like that, of course you do everything to stop it,” said Wexler. “Either get it stopped yourself, call the police, call anyone and everyone in sight. The overwhelming majority of cases are nothing like that. They are much more ambiguous.”

Wexler said that bills like these aren’t necessarily effective.

When we react by saying, ‘Make anyone and everyone a mandated reporter,’ that’s not helping children. That’s adult self-indulgence,” said Wexler. “It makes us feel better that we are doing something about it.”

At the federal level, U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is calling for a review of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.


Sunday, November 20, 2011, 6:51 PM
insider9909 wrote:

I find it somewhat interesting to know that Wexler, in his zeal to "protect" children, advocates leaving the child in the home even if physical and sexual abuse has been proven.  I also find it interesting that Wexler is a Penn State grad and used to work for Penn St.  I wonder if him and Wexler are "buddies".  Hmmmmm.


Fact. Wexler doesn't believe in mandatory reporting in case of child abuse (sexual or otherwise)

Fact.  Wexler believes that children are always better with the parents regardless of the type of abuse.

Fact.  Wexler believes that most reports by children of abuse are "lies" made up by the children. 


Wexler is frequently quoted by national journalist as being some kind of "expert" on child welfare.  Why?  Does he posses a degree in child care or child psychology?  NO.  Did he ever work as a child welfare worker?  NO.  Has he any long term factual evidence of his findings?  Other than one study from UCalSB, NONE


Fact:  Wexler eeks out a living by doing a little consulting and public speaking on the subject.  While he is frequently quoted as being on the staff of the NCCPR (National Coalition for Child Protection Reform ), that whole orginzation is one person….Wexler.  It is my goal to educate national media to understand that Richard Wexler is a nobody who could care less about the lives or welfare of children. 

On a side note, Wexler publically condemned the state of Texas for removing the children from the FDLS compount run by Warren Jeffs and his band of criminals. 

Friday, November 18, 2011, 6:54 PM
Charles J Stecker Jr wrote:
Friday, November 18, 2011, 1:02 AM
george wrote:

I have to agree that the current focus on changing the mandated reporter laws is woefully insufficient and an illusory solution.  

We have to change social norms and expectations so we don't need a law to tell us what we should do.  We have to understand how the culture at PSU was created that could lead a janitor to conclude he would be fired if he report abuse. 

That culture should then be held up to public scrutiny. 

Perhaps PSU could be sentenced to community service, and directed to put its academic resources to work to study how such a culture is established and maintained, and how it can be systematically dismantled.

It's time for some critical thinking in service of deconstructing and reconstructing that culture.


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