Protecting Children from Abuse Unanimously
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.