Mandated reporting regulation protects minors on campus

Elizabeth Witt, Connection Staff

Each year, children under the age of 18 suffer from various types of abuse or neglect at home or in school and in many cases no one is told about it.

Sexual harassment or assault, physical and emotional abuse and neglect are all serious issues, but many children will not tell anyone that these things are happening to them because they are scared of being put in more danger.

Mandated reporting is a law here in California that requires doctors, teachers and other various caregivers to report incidents they are aware of to the authorities if they feel that it could be harmful to the child or others, even if they are told in confidentiality, according to California Mandated Reporter.

“Any reasonable adult, when they see a child who’s being abused, should have the ability to step outside of the policies that guide their behavior within their institution and protect a child,” said psychology professor James Frazee. “That’s a rational thing for any adult in our society to do.”

Here at Cosumnes River College, most professors don’t have to deal with students under the age of 18. But there are a few students who are 17 years old or younger, those coming in from high school or those who are just young for their class.

Many children and underage students are found in CRC’s Child Development Center, summer sports camps and swim classes.

“Our college is now saying we need to address and think about those young ones who are around here,” Frazee said.

Myeshia Kelly, a 35-year-old early childhood education major, agreed.

“As a parent, I want to know what’s going on when you’re around my child,” Kelly said. “You’re taking my child into your hands and you’re responsible for what happens.”

Frazee said that much of this is stemming from the Jerry Sandusky case at Pennsylvania State University, which involved a college football coach who had been found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse of a number of children over a 15 year period.

Some of the other coaches Sandusky had worked with, including Joe Paterno, knew about the sexual assault and had not reported it even though it was required by law and they were held liable.

“A lot of times we have these selfish notions of ‘I’ve gotta protect my position here at the college,’” Frazee said.

Unfortunately for these coaches at Penn State, their silence did not protect their jobs, but rather caused them to be fired from their coaching positions.

Frazee explained that the administration is encouraging teachers and staff members on campus to be more aware of their requirements as mandated reporters.

“Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services around our country want to have eyes and ears out there for hearing about people who can’t advocate for themselves,” he said.

Nathan Smith, a 21-year-old agricultural business major, didn’t entirely agree with the idea of mandated reporting.

“Nobody wants somebody to know they’ve been sexually abused,” Smith said, arguing that such matters should be handled discreetly.“A responsible college counselor should know how to handle situations like that.”