Penn State is launching a professional training program to help university employees recognize and report child abuse.
University officials said Thursday the plan will be implemented in two phases. The first will start next week, focusing on employees who work with children in summer programs, including camps.
Hundreds of university employees are expected to participate in the face-to-face training before an online interactive program can be launched in the fall, officials said.
The training comes more than five months after the arrest of retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky denies the allegations.
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The university said in a statement Thursday that it worked with groups, including the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Centre County Women’s Resource Center, to put the training in place.
The program is part of the university’s response to preliminary recommendations made by former FBI director Louis Freeh, who is leading Penn State’s independent investigation into the Sandusky scandal.
“It’s our belief that anyone at Penn State, not just those who work directly with children, should understand the law and its requirements, should be able to identify signs of abuse and should know exactly who to call and how to report,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in statement. “Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility.”
University officials said they are moving quickly to train employees who will be responsible for children and summer camps and during summer activities. That training will begin Wednesday.
Jody Althouse, director of outreach and communications at the county Women’s Resource Center, told county commissioners this week that her organization will help train Penn State employees.
“Every staff member and every facility member needs to be trained at Penn State,” Althouse said. “This is a major undertaking by PCAR and Penn State.”
University officials said face-to-face training will continue until the online program can be implemented. The program is currently under development and should be ready by fall.
“This is one more meaningful step toward strengthening our efforts to keep our community safe,” Erickson said.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631.