Collaborative effort offers training in reporting child abuse, Clery compliance

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Preventing child abuse and improving safety on campus is a shared responsibility that requires continued vigilance in our community, and Penn State is among the first institutions in the nation to require annual training to help individuals spot the signs and report suspected abuse.

As part of its commitment to positive change, the University has developed a collaborative approach to offer online professional development programs on reporting suspected child abuse and Clery Act compliance for University employees, students and volunteers. The Clery Act is a federal law related to campus safety.

"A critical component of prevention is training individuals on what to look for and what to do if there are children at risk, as well as sharing strategies to reduce the likelihood of child abuse," said Susan E. Cromwell, director for Workplace Learning and Performance in Penn State's Office of Human Resources. "Our prevention and safety programs have expanded rapidly so that we can meet the training needs across the University."

Cromwell has been working collaboratively with ITS Training Services to launch the Workplace Learning Gateway. The site serves as an online portal for employees to access the appropriate training they may need in one place and at their convenience. 

"Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse"

Penn State now requires all employees to take training on how to recognize and report suspected child abuse, through Policy AD72. Students and volunteers who are considered "authorized adults" -- those who work with children and have responsibility for children's programs -- also are required to take the training.

In 2013, as of July 9, nearly 15,500 employees, students, volunteers and others have received training.

"The program is part of Penn State's ongoing commitment to support the identification and reporting of child abuse," said University President Rodney Erickson. "This is just one component of our effort to revisit all standards, policies and programs to ensure that they meet not only the law, but Penn State’s standard," he said.

"Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse" is available online via two training modules -- one module for Penn State employees and another for volunteers and certain part-time employees.

Cromwell explained that the modules are designed to help employees and volunteers understand their responsibilities under Pennsylvania law and University policies, and outline the process for identifying, responding to and reporting child abuse.

A second, separate training site also has been created by CWLP specifically for authorized adults who work with Penn State units, departments and organizations but who do not have University accounts, Cromwell said. This population includes volunteers and part-time employees who work fewer than 100 hours a year. The second site is available at http://ohr.psu.edu/learning/online/volunteers.

More than 5,000 CSAs trained in Clery Act compliance

Penn State's program to educate campus security authorities (CSAs) in Clery Act compliance has trained more than 5,000 individuals since June 2012, according to Gabriel Gates, Clery compliance manager at the University.

Gates said that on this front, as well as on other safety efforts, Penn State “strives to exceed the requirements of the Clery Act.”

The act requires all U.S. higher education institutions that participate in federal financial aid programs to record and disclose certain information about campus crime and security policies. This includes issuing campus alerts, publishing annual security reports, disclosing missing student protocols, maintaining a daily crime log and a daily fire log, and publishing an annual fire report, Gates said.

As manager for Clery compliance on all of Penn State’s campuses, Gates collaborates with various offices across the University to develop and implement strategies to ensure adherence to the law. The law is aimed at providing students, parents and the public access to safety information, as well as educating and training the University community and instituting policies that enhance safety and security.

The training is required for those identified as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) at the University, said Gates. An example of a CSA might be a police officer, a dean of students, a sports coach, a club or organization adviser, or a human resource representative. CSAs can be full- or part-time Penn State employees, volunteers, or other individuals working under 100 hours annually.

The program has two components. University employees must attend their first session in-classroom, said Gates, and then are required to update their training online, each year.

"Penn State is among the first in the nation to require annual training for our CSAs," said Gates. "There are not a lot of other institutions that require this training once, let alone updating it every year. We plan to continue to improve the online version and make it more interactive and robust this fall."

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Last Updated August 15, 2013