Pennsylvania child abuse laws, like the abuse laws found in other states, fall under the criminal or penal code. The crime is broadly defined to include any type of cruelty inflicted on a child, such as mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, and neglect. Charges for physical child abuse often include assault and battery. Additionally, child abuse laws include provisions requiring certain adults with access to children (such as teachers and doctors) to report signs of abuse.
Keep in mind, state child abuse laws can differ depending on your jurisdiction. Below, you'll find a general overview of Pennsylvania child abuse laws, mandatory reporting requirements, and penalties for failure to report.
|What Constitutes Abuse||
Act which causes non-accidental serious physical injury, sexual abuse/exploitation, serious physical neglect constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or failure to provide essentials of life
|Mandatory Reporting Required By||
Physician, coroner, dentist, chiropractor, hospital personnel, Christian Science practitioner, clergy, school teacher/nurse/administrator, social services worker, day care or child center worker, mental health professional, peace officer, law enforcement official, funeral director, foster care worker
|Basis of Report of Abuse/Neglect||
Reasonable cause to suspect (within their respective training) that child is abused
|To Whom Reported||
Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth
|Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting||
Summary offense for 1st violation; misdemeanor in 3rd degree for 2nd and subsequent offenses
|Related Statutes||Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, § 4304: Endangering Welfare of Children|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Child abuse is when a parent or a caretaker emotionally, physically, or sexually, neglects, abuses, or abandons a child. Laws regarding child abuse seek to protect children from serious harm while affording parents the opportunity to raise and discipline their children as they see fit. Many people are unaware how often child abuse occurs in the United States: each year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made, involving almost 6 million children, and every day 4 or 5 children are killed by child abuse or neglect. Find the resources available in your state or visit FindLaw’s Where to Get Help for Child Abuse article for more information on what you can do if you suspect a child is being abused.
To research out more general information about this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s child abuse section.
Next Steps: A Free Case Review
The physical, emotional, and psychological effects of child abuse can be extreme, and it is best to report possible child abuse cases to the authorities as soon as possible. You can also contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to learn more about an existing or possible case of child abuse or if you've been charged with this crime. Start today with a free case review.
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