Our View: Iowa's US senators team up for worthwhile effort

Source: The Daily Nonpareil

A bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators – including Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst – were among those who on Monday introduced a bill aimed at curbing sex abuse within high-level athletic programs.

The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017 would require the governing bodies for amateur athletics, including national organizations that oversee particular sports, to report sex abuse allegations to proper authorities and ensure “strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented,” according to a release from Ernst’s office.

This common-sense bill follows a string of high-profile allegations at of abuse of youth athletes in the national gymnastics and swimming programs.

Sadly, such actions aren’t just limited to these entities. From the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State to the Football Association, soccer’s governing body in England, confirmed abuse has rocked those institutions to their cores.

Athletes, particularly those at the elite levels of competition, may travel often for meets, work long hours with coaches and can be dependent on them for future success. That’s why such protections need to be extended far beyond their current requirements.

School employees, health care professionals and law enforcement officers are among those whose employment make them what’s known as a mandatory reporter in 48 of the 50 states, including Iowa, according to the federal Children’s Bureau.

Since these workers have frequent contact with children, they are required by law to report suspected abuse, neglect or maltreatment of a child to an appropriate agency or law enforcement department.

This includes teachers who coach at the high school level. A similar requirement for the bodies that govern amateur athletics, particularly following widespread reports of abuse that recently came to light, is a common-sense extension of that protocol.

Ernst and Grassley made Iowa the only state with two Republican senators to sign onto the legislation. Only three other states – California, Florida and Indiana – had their entire Senate delegation introduce the measure.

While the U.S. obviously has several great needs the newly seated Congress must address, few are more important than protecting young Americans from sexual predators.

This bill takes logical steps to ensure youth athletes are better protected in an arena where they may be more vulnerable.

We encourage lawmakers to strongly consider it for passage, and we applaud our Senate delegation for its support of an important measure.