Penn State scandal may change SC sex abuse reporting laws

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Penn State child sex abuse scandal has sparked a hot debate over who should have been told about the alleged abuse and how incidents should be reported in the future. And in the aftermath of the bombshell, a local organization says this case may change how sexual abuse is reported in South Carolina.

"You don't have to have proof," says Cindy McElhinney, director of programs at Darkness to Light. "You just have to have reason to believe a child is being harmed."

McElhinney says reporting child abuse in South Carolina isn't mandatory, like it is in 20 other states across the country.

Those that are required by law to report are teachers, principals, medical professionals, social workers and counselors. They're what's called "mandate reporters."

That means if they keep quiet about any signs of abuse without tipping off law enforcement, and they are found to have known about the incident, they also can be held accountable.

"As a result of what's happening at Penn State," says McElhinney. "South Carolina legislators will take a closer look at their states laws and determine whether or not all adults should be legally required to report any abuse."

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