Penn State and others to use bowl revenues for child protection

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Twelve Big Ten schools, including Penn State, each have been given a portion of what would have been Penn State's football bowl revenues from the past season to distribute to child-focused causes they deem appropriate.

Officials in the Big Ten Conference are providing $188,344 to each university to donate to a local organization of their choice, whose primary focus is on protecting children and advocacy on behalf of children. The money for each school represents one-twelfth of the revenue Penn State would have earned during the 2013 bowl season -- a total of nearly $2.3 million -- had the Nittany Lions been allowed to participate.

Penn State was banned from 2013 bowl game participation as part of Big Ten sanctions that were handed down following the investigation of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA also banned the Nittany Lions football program from competing in postseason play for four years and imposed a series of penalties and corrective actions.

Penn State has opted to channel its funds through the Centre County United Way with instructions to split the money equally between the Stewards of Children program and the Children's Advocacy Center.

Stewards of Children is an awareness program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse. The program is designed for organizations that serve youth and for individuals concerned about the safety of children. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence-based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors.

"This is a transformational gift that will assure Stewards of Children continues in Centre County and that we meet and exceed our goal of training 5 percent of all residents," said Tammy Gentzel, executive director of the Centre County United Way. "Increasing awareness among adults in our community will help to ensure that all children in the county live in a safe environment."

The Centre County United Way, Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Centre County Youth Service Bureau and YMCA of Centre County have partnered to bring the program to county residents, with a goal of training 5,000 adults -- the “tipping” point that will ensure that every child in the county has contact with an adult who has received training to create and maintain a safe environment for our youth.

The Children's Advocacy Center, an idea originally fostered by Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford and others, will provide a centralized location for all of the necessary services for children who have been abused, including medical services, and will be operated by Mount Nittany Health in offices located in Bellefonte, Pa. The current process requires multiple interviews of the child with different people at different locations. It also requires the child to travel to receive specialized medical care and exams.

"These funds will further our efforts to protect our children and to minimize the trauma that children experience when they are victimized," Lunsford said. "I am grateful to President Erickson and the Penn State community for recognizing the importance of our endeavors and validating our cause."

"As a community, we must continue to look deeper into the issue of child maltreatment and abuse," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "We must commit to continuing to raise awareness, as well as fight these insidious crimes in whatever way possible."

Following its 2011 football season, Penn State formed a partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and committed $1.5 million from its share of that year's Big Ten bowl revenues to fund a variety of initiatives, including the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children.

Third annual conference on Child Protection and Well-Being set for May 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s third annual Conference on Child Protection and Well-Being is scheduled for May 5-6, 2014, at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. The two-day conference will focus on “Parenting, Family Processes and Intervention” and feature presentations and panel discussions from top researchers in the field.

Speakers include internationally renowned experts in family studies and child maltreatment research. Four sessions will target an array of topics within the study of family processes and child maltreatment transmission, intervention and prevention.

Conference organizer Douglas Teti, professor of human development, psychology and pediatrics, said he’s pleased with the amount of interest the event has received, and excited to get some of the “greatest minds in the field in one room to talk.”

“We have a pretty impressive agenda lined up,” he said. “It’s going to be a great forum for discussion and learning from a variety of disciplinary directions.”

Conference presenters include researchers, clinicians and practitioners from around the country who together will provide a wealth of knowledge on parent and family factors in child maltreatment.

The topics of the sessions are: (1) Child Maltreatment and Family Processes, (2) Intergenerational Transmission of Child Maltreatment, (3) Intervening with Maltreated Children and Their Families, and (4) Family-Focused Approaches to Preventing Child Maltreatment: Current Efforts, Future Directions.

Public registration, the full agenda and other details on the conference will be released later this year.

Launched in fall 2012 from a recommendation by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment, the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being is the driving force of the University’s academic activities in research, education and practice aimed at combating child maltreatment. The Network’s mission includes increasing awareness and evidence-based knowledge on the prevention, detection and treatment of child abuse.

The Network will welcome the first three of at least 12 new hires who will bolster Penn State’s expertise in the area. Jennie Noll, who will speak at the conference, and Chad Shenk, both in human development and family studies, and Lori Frasier in pediatrics are the first recruits of the "cluster" hire. They will join the Penn State faculty this fall semester. Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, will join the Network in the spring.

The conference series will continue the Network’s efforts to target a range of issues pertaining to child maltreatment. On Sept. 25, 2013, Penn State’s second annual conference will bring together district attorneys, children and youth service professionals, law enforcement officials and medical professionals as well as Penn State faculty members to discuss “Protecting Pennsylvania’s Children by Building Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams/Child Advocacy Centers.”

Last October, the University held its inaugural conference, which featured experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention and treatment.

July report on Freeh recommendations shows quick action by Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials reported today (July 17) on the rapid implementation of all but one of the 119 changes recommended in a report compiled by independent investigator and federal Judge Louis Freeh in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Board of Trustees commissioned Freeh to look into the situation and identify ways to improve Penn State’s responses in the areas of safety and governance and to ensure the highest moral standards and integrity in academics and athletics. The Freeh Report, issued on July 12, 2012 , has resulted in 118 changes ranging from restructuring the governance of its Board of Trustees to expanding the University's Office of Human Resources, while expanding legal and risk reporting protocols.

While 115 of the recommendations are listed as complete, by their nature these changes are actually ongoing and continuous. For example, one recommendation asks that the University continue to benchmark its practices and policies with other similarly situated institutions and to focus on continuous improvement. Initial actions have been taken and these recommendations will continue to receive attention from the Administration Response Team, the Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees.

A complete status update on actions taken is available here.

The Freeh Report was produced by independent law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, which was hired in November 2011 and investigated the University's response to the allegations against Sandusky.

Penn State receives initial Clery report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On July 12, 2013, Penn State received a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education based on the program review of the University’s compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety. The program review process, which was launched in November 2011, is ongoing. The Department of Education is required by statute to maintain the confidentiality of this preliminary report in order to facilitate the program review process. The University is committed to fully engaging in the review process and will maintain the confidentiality of the report. The Department of Education will make a final program review determination after this process is complete, at which time more information about the investigation can be made public. The review was sparked by allegations of sex offenses on campus by former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The Department of Education notified the University of the review in a Nov. 9, 2011 letter (http://www.psu.edu/ur/2011/DoE_Letter_110911.pdf ). Since that time, officials across Penn State have provided the review team with access to all requested records and information sources. In addition to unfettered access, Penn State also hired a full-time Clery compliance manager in March 2012, who has been working with leading Clery Act organizations across the country to standardize procedures, establish accountability protocol and create guidelines for individuals, including those identified as Campus Security Authorities, to follow. Penn State also has instituted a mandatory Clery Act training program for employees. The Clery Act requires all higher education institutions in the country to 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. 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 federal law is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered by another student in her campus residence hall in 1986.

Penn State trustees approve resolution to make legal settlement offers

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. -- Today (July 12) Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution authorizing the University to make settlement offers to a number of individuals who have made claims against the University arising out of actions of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. This authorization is limited to offers recommended by the board’s Legal Subcommittee -- an arm of the board’s Legal and Compliance Committee -- within a range of dollar values described to the board in a confidential, attorney-client privileged session.

"Today's action is yet another important step toward the resolution of claims from Sandusky’s victims," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "As we have previously said, the University intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy."

Given the sensitivity of the process, University officials will have no further comment until the settlements have been finalized and mutually acceptable settlement agreements are executed and delivered. No settlement agreements have been signed and the discussions with counsel for the various individuals remain confidential. Penn State has no definitive timetable set for the signed agreements, but officials hope to conclude the process with the majority of the claimants within the next several weeks.

The law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP was retained to help facilitate the settlements. Feinberg Rozen has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.

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