Making the cracks smaller ... much smaller
Given the long list of depressing cases of child sexual abuse, it's hard to believe that there still is no standard protocol to ensure that predators can't be hired as public school teachers and staff.
Many schools and other institutions have adopted policies to ensure mandatory background checks of applicants and to require related training. But as Sen. Pat Toomey noted recently while visiting the Children's Advocacy Center in Scranton, there is no uniform requirement.
He has introduced the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act to establish such a uniform protocol.
Mr. Toomey cited a case years ago in which a Delaware County school fired a teacher for sexual misconduct but helped him land a job in West Virginia, where he later sexually assaulted and murdered young boy.
Pennsylvania's Legislature, spurred by the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the conviction of a priest in Philadelphia, recently passed a battery of new laws more narrowly defining abuse and expanding the duties of institutions to report it. The state already had required reporting by public schools.
Mr. Toomey's bill would help to ensure that all states have at least a basic common standard, so that egregious conduct in one state won't be missed in another.
The bill would require all schools to conduct background checks of all applicants and to report to local police if the check indicates that the applicant has a history of abuse. Doing so will preclude some administrators from "solving" their problem by making it someone else's problem.
In the computer age, the "cracks" through which a pedophile can fall without detection should be very small. Congress should pass Mr. Toomey's bill to make that the case.