WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Education Committee called Wednesday for a hearing on the sex abuse scandals at Penn State and The Citadel.

California Rep. George Miller told the committee’s chairman, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., in a letter that the hearing should look at whether changes are needed in federal laws designed to protect children and students.

At Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, is charged with abusing eight children over a 15-year period. University officials have been criticized for not alerting police.

The Citadel’s president acknowledged this week that the South Carolina military college lost public trust by not aggressively pursuing a 2007 report of sexual abuse allegedly committed at its former summer camp by an ex-counselor.

Committee spokeswoman Alexandra Haynes Sollberger said the panel is monitoring the situation at Penn State and will assess the need for action after the Education Department finishes its investigation.