Editorial: Pennsylvania Senate’s turn on child abuse protections
Okay, Senate. Your turn.
The Pennsylvania House did its job. They took a proposal to rewrite the rules on child sex abuse reporting and ran with it.
One bill would chuck the statute of limitations if the reason child abuse wasn’t reported was that the mandated reporters didn’t report the abuse. It passed with 162 yeas to just 22 nays.
The second bill says that a nondisclosure agreement has to spell out the fact that the document can’t prevent cooperation with a police investigation. That one passed unanimously.
Both are recommendations from the statewide investigating grand jury that returned a damning report on decades of abuse in dioceses across Pennsylvania, with thousands of victims abused by hundreds of priests.
Moreover, these are recommendations that should be blatantly obvious in their common-sense simplicity. Of course we shouldn’t have a system that encourages an organization to keep their own failings quiet until it is too late to do anything about them. Of course we should not allow a self-serving contract to circumvent a criminal investigation.
Eight months ago, Pennsylvania faced a brutal truth about how our system had been manipulated to re-victimize already abused children. The grand jury report has prompted other states and the federal government to take a look into other dark corners to find more clergy abuse.
The reforms passed in Harrisburg are the way forward. They are an affirmative and proactive step. It is a way for our leaders to say that this kind of systemic predation — this racketeering that breaks children’s souls instead of dealing drugs or running guns — will not be given shelter or solace in the Keystone State.
And our children are just a state Senate vote away from those protections.
The grand jury did its work. So did the Office of the Attorney General. So did the House of Representatives. This is a relay race and the baton has been handed off.
It’s your turn, Senate.