A new state law requires all Illinois universities to have its employees sign a form that states they will report any child abuse or neglect they observe.
The Department of Children and Family Services implemented the law this year after the Jerry Sandusky case went to trial, according to the Illinois General Assembly website. DCFS was already attempting to get the bill passed, but the department increased its effort to get the bill passed through the Senate once Sandusky was convicted of 45 out of 48 child sex abuse charges.
It went into effect June 27, 2012, said Bruce Dubre, policy writer for DCFS.
Sandusky was the assistant football coach at Penn State in University Park, Penn., who coached for more than 32 years. Sandusky has been under investigation since 1998 but was not arrested until December 2011 and charged with sexually abusing more than 10 boys over a 15-year period.
Sandusky was found guilty June 22 and is awaiting his sentence in Centre County Prison in Pennsylvania.
“Every employee of an institution of higher education must sign the form before they can begin working,” Dubre said. “It is just for Illinois because this is where we have jurisdiction.”
Toni Vagner, student employment manager, said the form is new this semester but has not had an effect on the employment rate so far. The form is signed along with seven others that students must complete when they are hired to a new position on campus, she said.
Vagner said she has not received any negative feedback since the form went into effect this semester. Even though the bill was passed in June, SIU already completed its summer hiring so the fall semester is the first time it has been in place, she said.
“It is only one additional form,” she said. “It honestly has not affected my work at all.”
However, students seem to have contrary feelings toward the new form and the requirement to sign it for employment on campus.
Dexter Lee, a junior from Chicago studying electronic systems technology, said he feels the decision to report an incident should be the student’s choice because sometimes what an individual thought was child abuse might actually be a parent disciplining their child.
“How would you know if it’s abuse or not?” he said. “What if a parent hits their child and someone reports the incident and ends up misinterpreting what actually happened?”
Kiara Poole, a senior from Bolingbrook studying education, said she thinks the form is pointless because university students don’t really have any interaction with children.
“I would hope that if someone witnessed that then they would report it anyway, but we’re at a university so I didn’t see the point,” Poole said.
Further information on the law can be found at ilga.gov under Public Act number 97-0711.