New laws need to be used to fullest effect
The Jerry Sandusky case and another involving the Rev. Charles Englehardt in Philadelphia exposed not only the crimes they committed against children, but the inadequacies in state laws meant to detect and deter that conduct.
Last week the state House Children and Youth Committee approved a package of six bills that should help to better protect children. For example, the bills would broaden the definition of abuse to allow earlier intervention by authorities and minimize harm to children, expand requirements to report abuse, require background checks for more people who work with children, and so on.
The bills are derived from recommendations by legislative commission that was created following the Sandusky arrest and prosecution.
Even though the bills merit adoption, they are not comprehensive. They do not address another key issue that was exposed by the Sandusky case. Even though several state agencies had some information about Mr. Sandusky's conduct, that they did not act under the authority that they had under existing law.
Lawmakers should ensure that the Department of Public Welfare and local offices of children and youth services have the resources and training they need to use the new laws to the fullest effect.