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Protecting Children from Abuse Unanimously Passed
September 30 ,2013- Don Rooney
HARRISBURG- The Senate Aging and Youth Committee has unanimously approved the seven bills that form the Child Protection Legislative Package. The package’s bills cover all areas of law, from an overhaul of the definitions of child abuse, to reporting standards, penalties for perpetrators, and resources for victims and families. The legislation would update the state's definition of child abuse, stipulate who is required to report abuse, and increase penalties for failing to report abuse, among other changes.
Senator Washington's legislation, Senate Bill 20, serves as the centerpiece of the Package. The bill overhauls the definition of child abuse in Pennsylvania. For example, current state law says that a child must suffer "serious" bodily injury to be considered abused; the proposed changes would lower that standard to just "bodily injury." A victim of child abuse herself, the Senator says, "This legislation provides an easy-to-understand guide of what is and is not child abuse, and provides for exemptions that allow parents to still parent."
The bills came from recommendations made by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, formed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. The package is expected to be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Once approved there, it will head to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
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