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Illinois Changes Reporting Rules for Child Sex Abuse

Anybody who has been even slightly tuned-in with the news over the last several months knows about the criminal trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Late last month, Sandusky was convicted of 45 charges of child sexual abuse stemming from allegations that he had sexually assaulted a series of young boys.

Part of the outrage surrounding the trial grew from allegations that Penn State officials knew that Sandusky was suspected of abuse, but failed to report him to police. As a result, the abuse was allowed to continue, putting more and more children in harm's way.

In the wake of the Sandusky case, Illinois has taken steps to prevent similar scenarios from happening in the future.

Under a new law, all sports coaches and university employees will be required to report suspected cases of child abuse to law enforcement. Illinois already has an extensive list of "mandatory reporters," including teachers, clergy members, health care workers, child care providers and film processors.

The law is meant to ensure that a case of suspected sexual abuse doesn't go unreported simply because of a technicality in the law.

Reporting Abuse Is Important

Many child victims of sexual abuse do not speak up because their abuser has instilled them with shame and fear. A brave adult who is willing to speak up can make a world of difference. In addition, by reporting the abuser, the adult can protect an untold number of future victims.

If you suspect a child you know might be being abused, do the right thing and tell the police.

Source: Reuters, "Illinois aims to head off sex abuse scandals like at Penn State," June 27, 2012.

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