Reporting child abuse: Our legal and moral responsibilities.

We have all been following the recent events at Penn State with great shock and sadness. These alleged incidents serve to remind us of our legal and moral responsibilities toward each other. From a legal perspective, Tennessee has strict laws requiring the reporting of child abuse and neglect. Failure to act may result in both criminal and personal liability. Attached is a memorandum from the Board of Regents Central Office, and a summarization of Tennessee laws provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov ).

As set out in law and policy, local law enforcement authorities must be immediately informed of suspected child abuse. Employees must contact the MTSU University Police at 898-2424, or the Murfreesboro Police Department at 911. It is also expected that employees would inform their supervisor and/or the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, 898-2185. If you witness, see, or hear of possible abuse or other inappropriate conduct, don't hesitate and don't assume that someone has already notified officials.

As part of our efforts to maintain a safe campus, I have asked our Office of University Counsel to develop a program for the Spring to provide information and training concerning risk management and best practices for camps and clinics held on campus. More information will be provided at a later date. However, I want to take this opportunity to urge you to attend these sessions.

Finally, I would ask that you review

MTSU Policy I:13:01 Violence on Campus

that sets out our commitment to maintain a safe campus for students, faculty and staff. It further states: "If a member of the campus community becomes aware of an act of violence or the potential for future acts of violence, he or she should contact the University Police Department or, if anonymity is desired, the Rutherford County Crime Stoppers."

As a community with shared values of respect and concern for one another, we must be vigilant and prepared to immediately respond when assistance is needed for we have a moral responsibility as well as a legal duty to do so. The alleged incidents at Penn State are undeniably tragic. At the same time, it prompts us to review our policies and procedures, and to renew our commitment to action when inappropriate conduct occurs.