Governor Tom Corbett today (December 18) signed into law a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne that significantly strengthens Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.
Senate Bill 28, introduced by Senator Browne, was one of 10 bills signed by the Governor during a ceremony at the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.
Senator Browne’s measure lowers the age of a perpetrator for simple assault from age 21 to 18; amends aggravated assault to include (1) causing bodily injury to a child under the age of 6 as a felony of the second degree and (2) causing serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 13 as a felony of the first degree; creates new offenses of “false reports of child abuse” and “intimidation or retaliation in child abuse cases” to protect any reporter, victim or witness who reports child abuse.
“This new law holds perpetrators accountable for their actions by increasing the criminal penalties for any person who injures a child,” Senator Browne said. “In addition, it creates the new offense of ‘intimidation or retaliation in child abuse cases’ which not only protects the victim, but also the reporter or witness who acts on behalf of the abused child. These changes are important steps to increase the safety of Pennsylvania’s young people, fully prosecute those who prey on children and to protect those who have a responsibility to report cases of child abuse.”
The other bills signed into law during the ceremony include:
Senate Bill 23 updates the definition of “perpetrator” and expands the definition of “person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
Senate Bill 30 establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals by requiring false claims of suspected child abuse be maintained in statewide database, provides for appeals of indicated reports, sets timeframe for hearings and decisions.
Senate Bill 34 establishes a comprehensive system for professional educators who are investigated and disciplined for misconduct in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 321 directs the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing provide for a sentencing enhancement for child pornography, based upon the age of the child victimized, the number of images possessed, and the nature and character of the abuse.
House Bill 414 requires the court, in a custody proceeding, to consider factors related to child abuse and involvement with child protective services.
House Bill 726 amends the definitions of “child abuse” and related terms in the Child Protective Services Law.
Senate Bill 1116 provides for a multidisciplinary investigative team to be used to coordinate child-abuse investigations between county agencies and law enforcement.
House Bill 1201 amends the Judicial Code concerning child victims and witnesses, and reporting by district attorneys.
House Bill 1594 increases penalties for luring a young child into a motor vehicle or structure.
Vicki Wilken (717) 787-1349
Matt Moyer (610) 366-2327