Penn State scandal sparks legislative debates

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The Penn State University child sex abuse scandal has prompted state lawmakers across the nation to take another look at laws designed to protect children and punish child predators.

Thirty-eight legislatures are back in session this month, most for the first time since retired assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged in November with child sex abuse.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 12 states are considering mandatory reporting legislation this year, and more are expected to craft bills as their sessions get into full swing.

In addition to measures to improve the reporting of suspected child sex abuse, bills have been drafted across the country that would increase or even eliminate the statutes of limitations for bringing criminal or civil cases against alleged abusers.