Protecting Youth

THE NEW year is on our doorstep. When Tuesday ushers in 2013, it will be accompanied by a slew of new laws nationwide.

States vary in the enactment of their respective legislation. Many states have their laws becoming effective Jan. 1, while others have a 90-day waiting period after the governor’s signature.

We view many of Tuesday’s new laws as being appropriate and overdue.

Many laws bid to protect children from bullying and abuse.

Pennsylvania is one of those championing the rights of youths. School employees in that state in contact with children, who already must report suspected abuse, must now be trained to recognize the warning signs, their legal obligations and what are considered appropriate relationships with children.

That law was being debated and voted on in June as a jury was finding former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 counts for sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Obviously that helped to make for much easier passage. Regardless, it is a law we see as being useful.

Meanwhile, California coaches and administrators in K-12 schools, as well as higher education employees who have regular contact with children, will be required to report suspected child sexual abuse. Oregon will require schools to adopt a policy on teen dating violence, a law that follows state legislation earlier this year requiring school employees to report acts of bullying, harassment and online bullying.

Much like the new Pennsylvania legislation, the laws taking effect Tuesday in California and Oregon should prove effective safety guards for the well-being of children.

While no laws are totally foolproof or 100 percent effective, it is refreshing to see states making a more concerted effort to protect our most important treasures — our youth.

More states should follow suit.