When Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual assault, little did he know he was about to hurt thousands of other students and workers across the state.
In other developed countries, students often have a career path in mind before setting off to college at 16. In the U.S., most of us aren’t even exposed to fields that take decades of training until 18, stifling innovation. Some high school teachers, like Dr. Waldeck, of Pittsburgh Allderdice, are trying to change that by getting ambitious, diverse, public-school students into university labs. Rather bizarrely, imprisoned football coach Sandusky has proven a major obstacle.
When his sickening crimes came to light, the state took drastic measures to prevent similar offenses, creating numerous regulatory hoops to jump for any workers, especially those at universities, who have contact with minors. Although well-intentioned, millions of dollars have been wasted on fingerprinting and background checks for anyone from a researcher to a janitor working in a building where an 18-year-old has stepped foot.
Not to mention, Pennsylvania is now the only state in the union where high school students cannot intern in university labs, making us less competitive nationally and less prepared for our futures.
It is natural to respond to heinous crimes viscerally and feel driven to action. But the bedrock principles of freedom and opportunity upon which our nation is founded implore us to respond gracefully and show restraint in regulation to avoid jeopardizing those very loved ones whom we are trying to protect.
Adam Barsouk, State College