The Task Force on Child Protection released its report recommending several changes to existing state laws governing child abuse Nov. 27 in Harrisburg, and the policy arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops was quick to praise the task force’s work.
In the wake of the child sex abuse scandal that resulted in the conviction last year of former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, the 11-member panel was created by Gov. Tom Corbett and the General Assembly to examine the state’s laws and procedures designed to protect children from abuse.
“The task force’s recommendations call for what is essentially a complete rewriting of the Child Protective Services Law – such as redefining and clarifying what constitutes child abuse itself, and expanding the list of those who are required to report child abuse to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine,” said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, chairman of the task force.
Suspected abuse may be reported anytime to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.
The report also calls for upgrading some crimes and adding new offenses, transforming the way information about child abuse is handled and maintained, how crimes are investigated, and how people who are responsible for the wellbeing of children are trained.
A statement by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference said it would review the task force’s report and support recommendations that strengthen reporting, screening and educational requirements for adults who interact with children.
The Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania have in recent years required training and extensive background checks for both employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with minors. The Church has trained hundreds of thousands of adults engaged in Church ministries about creating a safe environment for children.
Specifically, the Church trains those who have substantial contact with children to recognize signs of abuse and to understand their responsibility to take action if abuse is suspected.
Students also receive instruction in age-appropriate child abuse awareness programs. Many of the stringent reporting and training requirements were implemented following the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which examined child abuse in the Church.
Several Pennsylvania dioceses and other Catholic organizations submitted written comments to the task force in support of tougher mandatory reporting laws, less red tape for background checks and more awareness of child abuse prevention.
In addition to contributing to the task force process, the PCC supported legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance of Cumberland County that requires school employees and independent contractors to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting to their employees who have direct contact with children.
The bill was signed into law July 5 by Gov. Corbett and takes effect at the end of the year.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103