Gov. Cuomo signs law requiring coaches to report signs of child abuse

By Glenn Blain (New York Daily News)
August 6, 2014

The sex abuse scandal at Penn State University has led to a new law in New York requiring school athletic coaches to report cases of suspected child abuse to local authorities.

Under the new law, which Gov. Cuomo signed Wednesday, coaches who hold or apply for a temporary coaching licenses or professional coaching certificates will also have to complete two hours of training on how to identify and report signs child abuse and maltreatment.

“This legislation is another step forward in New York’s fight against child abuse,” Governor Cuomo said. “With the proper training, and the clear mandate to report suspected instances of abuse, school coaches will play a crucial role in keeping our children safe and out of harm’s way.”

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) said she introduced the bill after watching the fallout from the 2011 scandal at Penn State in which longtime former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused and eventually convicted of abusing several underage boys. The scandal led to the firing of legendary head football coach Joe Paterno for failing to take proper actions to stop Sandusky’s abuse.

“When that happened I started thinking through the role of coaches with kids,” Paulin said.

Although state law already required teachers to report signs of abuse, it was unclear on whether coaches faced the same requirement, Paulin said. Many coaches working in school systems across the state are not licensed teachers, so a new law was needed, she added.

“Coaches are in a unique position of trust with their players, and this law will ensure that if a child confides in their coach or the coach observes signs of abuse, they will report it to the authorities,” Paulin said. “This will help protect children from abuse.”

Paulin said the new law, which was adopted by the Senate and Assembly in June, does not cover volunteer coaches.