Corbett signs child abuse protection bills
we’ll be able to respond better,” Corbett said. “We’re going to understand how to respond to it. We’re going to have training for those who are responders, who are reporters, as to how they have to report. Things that were not clear before, the Legislature is trying to make clear today. So I think this is a good step forward.”
Corbett said it wasthe responsibility of every citizen to be observant and to pass any information they may have along to the proper authorities, in order to help protect children.
“We have a responsibility, whether they’re our children or not, to protect them,” he said. “And these bills give us the opportunity to do a better job. We know, unfortunately, there are people out there that could be described no other way than sheer monsters, who will take the innocence of children for their own satisfaction.”
Corbett said the unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, along with those in attendance for the event, were united in the fight to protect children.
“Today we are closer to meeting one of our greatest obligations,” Stephens said, “protecting our children from abuse and ensuring those who we trust with their care fulfill their obligations. Since the task force on child protection delivered its report to the General Assembly, we’ve enacted countless reforms to improve Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.”
Stephens gave special recognition to two of the bills signed during the event, House Bill 436 and Senate Bill 21, which he described as “critical to ensuring the calvary comes running when a child is suspected of having been abused.”
“Senate Bill 21 ensures that virtually anyone who works with children in a professional or volunteer capacity, including school personnel, personnel at colleges and universities, youth sports coaches, child care providers, religious leaders, physicians and other health care workers, social services workers, law enforcement officers, librarians, emergency medical service providers and employees and independent contractors for each of those entities are required to report suspected child abuse.
“House Bill 436,” Stephens continued, “adds attorneys for organizations caring for children to this list of reporters, while preserving the attorney client privilege, bringing Pennsylvania in line with a majority of states across the U.S.”
Stephens said the bill also dramatically increases penalties for those who fail to report suspected abuse from a misdemeanor offense to a felony. He later stated that children rely on those entrusted to protect them to provide their voice for them, especially during times of suspected abuse, otherwise “the abuser remains free.”
Vereb called the new laws serious legislation that will give reporters the ability to report abuse when they see it.
Watson said making the protection of children is “paramount.”
After the event, Harper said she was proud of the work lawmakers did in getting the bills passed.
“Let me tell you something shocking,” Harper said. “A few years ago when we looked at the statistics of Pennsylvania versus other states for child abuse, we discovered that apparently we didn’t have a lot of it. Then we realized that we were not reporting enough things that were actually child abuse, child sexual abuse. We weren’t requiring enough people to give those reports. Sowhatthebillsdidthismorning was expand the inverse of people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse and who will go to jail if they don’t report it. In that way we’re going to be able to catch these guys, before they hit 100 children. What some of these predators do in a lifetime, 100 kids or more, we’re going to catch them early on, because we’re requiring more adults to speak up if they even suspect that there’s child abuse going on.”
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State Rep Kate Harper, R-61 and State Rep Todd Stephens, R-151, congratulate Gov. Tom Corbett, who has just finished signing legislation at the Ambler AreaYMCAto further protect children fromabuse Apr 15.