Pennsylvania Child Abuse Law Changes in 2015
Many important changes to child abuse laws have recently become effective, and even more will be effective at the end of the year. Many of these changes came about in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011, but some have been potential bills for even longer than that. Experts say that these changes will do a better job protecting children from abuse. The following are some of the most important provisions that have been changed.
- Failing to stop child abuse when possible is now considered a crime itself. Any person who knows about the abuse, but fails to try to stop it are considered complicit in the act.
- Reporting suspected child abuse is required of any adult in a position of authority in a child’s life. Not only are guardians and teachers required to report suspected abuse, but also coaches, school volunteers, and anyone who comes in contact with the child or is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or training of the child.
- Any bodily injury that causes a child substantial pain is considered abuse. The threshold used to be “serious bodily injury,” but has since been made wider. This consideration defines more forms of corporal punishment as abuse, protecting children from harm.
- It is now a crime to lure a child into a car or building with the promise of some treat or reward. Now the simple act of luring a child into another location is a crime itself, regardless of whether or not the child follows or what happens once there.
- Any physical punishment of children less than one year of age is considered child abuse, including forcefully shaking, slapping or otherwise striking them. This eliminates corporal punishment of very small children.
- Child abuse must be reported to an outside tip line within 48 hours of discovery or suspicion.
- More training and higher background scrutiny is required of anyone who works or volunteers with children. This is also now an ongoing process. Adults cannot simply do the training once and never do it again.
With these changes all active by the end of the year, children will be better protected from all kinds of abuse. Adults working with children will be held to higher standards and systems will be in place to make sure that any and all abuse should be reported directly to Child Protective Services.
Child abuse cases are intimidating for the reporters, the accused, and especially the victims and their families. If you are involved in a situation where child abuse may be alleged or you are being investigated for child abuse, you should consult with an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer to learn what your legal rights are. Call us at (412) 281-2146 at any time to speak with one of our attorneys in a free consultation.