Lawyers may be exempted from Pa. child abuse reporting law update

    Proposals to change how suspected child abuse must be reported in Pennsylvania are nearing the finish line after stalling for several months, but the newfound progress comes with changes.

    Two measures are awaiting final votes in the House and Senate to clarify who must report child abuse and how they should do it.

    But a Senate plan would now exclude lawyers from the list of people who will be mandated reporters in Pennsylvania, after lawmakers voiced concerns about breaching attorney-client privilege.

    Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, says she doesn’t see a major problem with the move.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    “Ultimately you want as few people as possible to have an exemption from reporting and yet, you have to balance that with the fact that there are certain privileged communications,” Palm said. “And so for now I think the legislature has found the right path forward.”

    The measure would require those who have to report suspected child abuse to do so with law enforcement — they couldn’t just report it up the chain of command to their employer.

    The issue is a high priority for children’s advocates because of the way the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case unfolded — three now-former Penn State officials were charged with reporting suspected abuse within their institution but standing in the way of a criminal investigation.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal