Created earlier this year in the wake of the child sexual-abuse scandal at Penn State, a state panel is on track to propose changes this fall to laws that govern child-abuse reporting practices, according to a York County woman on the panel.
The work continues for the Task Force on Child Protection despite a guilty verdict last week for Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on 45 of 48 counts related to the molestation of 10 boys.
Delilah Rumburg, director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, was one of five people appointed to the task force in January by Gov. Tom Corbett. Rumburg lives in Manchester Township.
The task: The 11-member panel is tasked with studying how child abuse is reported and responded to; collecting input from the public; and reporting how procedures, laws and training can be improved. It has until the end of November to issue findings and recommendations.
"I think, as horrific as this was for us as a state to have to witness, this is absolutely an opportunity for the general public to have to face child sexual abuse and have a greater understanding of that and awareness," Rumburg said Tuesday. "I think we'll see a lot more people willing to get involved and engaged."
For months, the task force has been gathering data and listening to testimony from teachers, prosecutors, physicians and child-welfare advocates -- "anyone that works within the system" -- about ways to improve state laws.
"That's been really, really informative," Rumburg said. "We're hearing consistently some of the same messages."
Prevention: She said the task force has scheduled a two-day retreat in July to begin working on the report. Rumburg said she intends to push for prevention-related recommendations.
"It's certainly appropriate looking at what the interventions may be. But my question is, what's the takeaway as far as, how can we better support prevention of child abuse to begin with?" she said.
Rumburg has also said she'd like to see required training for mandated reporters, like doctors and teachers. That requirement could become state law, however, before the panel issues its report. A bill that would require school workers to receive three hours of training every five years is expected to be signed by the governor soon.
The state's child-abuse hotline is 1-800-932-0313. Callers may remain anonymous.
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.