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Coaches must report child abuse under new state law

ALBANY -- New York has a new law that requires coaches to report child abuse in a measure prompted by the abuse scandal involving Penn State's football program.

The bill passed by the legislature this year and signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo adds school coaches to a long list of "mandated reporters," which includes teachers, physicians, social workers and school guidance counselors. Coaches also will have to complete two hours of training on how to spot abuse. Sanctions include revoking professional licenses.

The law requires those workers to make a report to police and other authorities when they have "reasonable cause to suspect that a child . . . is an abused or maltreated child."

The officials are protected from lawsuits if an investigation finds there was no abuse.

"When a coach witnesses child abuse the crime should always be reported directly to law enforcement authorities," said state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), the bill's co-sponsor.

The other co-sponsor, Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), said "coaches are in a unique position of trust with their players."

Cuomo said: "School coaches will play a crucial role in keeping our children safe."

The law was one of many nationwide that came after the scandal at Penn State in which a former defensive coordinator was accused of sexually abusing at least eight young boys, although the university failed to act at the time.

State & Region