STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State on Thursday instituted a new policy requiring all employees to report suspected child abuse to state authorities and take part in annual training.
School spokeswoman Jill Shockey said the policy goes beyond current Pennsylvania law, which requires only certain people to make such reports. Any employee who willfully fails to report suspected abuse could face disciplinary action including dismissal, the university said in a statement.
"These and other new policies and adjustments to existing ones are part of a focused and concerted effort by the University to become an academic and research leader nationwide in the protection of children," the statement said.
There were two exceptions to the Penn State reporting policy – for confidential communications made to any school-employed attorney or to clergy. Those exceptions mirror guidelines in state law.
The announcement was made days before opening statements in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, scheduled for Monday. Sandusky, 68, is accused of molesting 10 boys but denies the allegations.
In April, Penn State announced a similar training program for employees who work with minors on campus in recognizing and reporting abuse. The university announced minor tweaks Thursday to that policy, covering those employees in medical and legal fields.