ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Wednesday that will expand the requirement that coaches in schools report potential child abuse to authorities.
It's the latest attempt by states to toughen reporting standards after the 2012 case of Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach who was accused of decades of child sexual abuse.
Cuomo said the law will further protect children by requiring coaches who currently hold or are applying for a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate to complete two hours of training on potential child abuse.
In addition, effective July 1, 2015, all coaches will be required to provide proper documentation in order to both obtain and hold a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate.
"This legislation is another step forward in New York's fight against child abuse," Cuomo said in a statement. "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."
The state Education Department will arrange the training program.
Coaches in New York who are teachers are already considered mandatory reporters of abuse. The law expands it to include coaches who are hired by schools specifically to coach sports, said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County, who sponsored the bill.
She said New York law had been unclear on whether coaches who aren't already trained educators must report suspected cases of abuse. Paulin said that the training will help paid school coaches spot warning signs.
"Very often, teenagers on sports teams develop a very special bond, a trusting relationship, with their coach, and they divulge information that they may not divulge to another party," Paulin said.
The coaches will be afforded legal protections if the reports are proven unfounded, the bill stated.
Coaching organizations supported the change in law, saying many coaches already were required to report abuse and take the training.
"We are always in full support of anything that focuses on the safety of students," said Robert Zayas, executive director state Public High School Athletics Association.