In the wake of the child molestation scandal at Penn State, an Indiana university is raising awareness about an anonymous hotline that it hopes will empower students and faculty to report any possible illegal activity they might see or become aware of.
Purdue University has had its anonymous whistleblower hotline in place for some time now, but the reporting mechanism serves as a timely reminder that anyone can do the right thing, even if they feel uncomfortable going directly to police.
Though Purdue's hotline offers a way to report many potential issues, Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg said reports of illegal activity are sent anonymously to University Police. Investigations don't stop there, though. Officers are instructed to send cases to the county prosecutor.
"We're not making the decision," Norberg said. "Someone off campus is making the decision so that we make sure justice is done."
But at a time when Penn State University officials are accused of not properly reporting allegations of child molestation, does an anonymous report go far enough?
"In this state, anonymous reports are accepted," said Sandy Runkle, with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. "It can be scary because many times people may fear retribution. They may fear that they're wrong."
In reality the only wrong thing a witness can do is not report child abuse. Indiana law states that any individual who has reason to believe a child is a victim on child abuse or neglect must make a report.
"You still remain responsible for ensuring the report was made," Runkle said. "Policy doesn't trump the law."
That's why a follow-up feature of the hotline is especially important.
"They can track and find out exactly what's happened with their particular case," Norberg said. "It's a very effective way for an employee to feel empowered. I think we all know what's right and if those two things are in place, if you have a culture and you have empowerment, then I think people will come forward and some of this can be taken care of from the very beginning."
The Department of Child Services also has an anonymous hotline in which people can report accusations of abuse or neglect. Call 1-800-800-5556 to make a report.
More information on how you can help prevent child abuse is available online.
Purdue reminds campus of anonymous hotline for illegal activity
In the wake of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, Purdue University wants to remind students about their anonymous hotline.
West Lafayette, Ind.