Proposals to clarify who must tell law enforcement about suspected child abuse in Pennsylvania received final votes in the state House and Senate Wednesday. Together, the two proposals lay out who must report child abuse to law enforcement and how they should do it.Child advocates were keen on making sure the bills did not allow people to make a complaint merely within their institution, based on lessons learned as the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case unfolded. Three former Penn State officials were charged with keeping complaints within their school and blocking a criminal investigation into suspected abuse.
“With this bill there will no longer be any mistake as to who has a requirement to report abuse,” said Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland. “There’ll be no more passing the buck, and no more finger-pointing at someone else saying they should have reported. There is a clear path on what they are to do with suspected child abuse.”
A second measure in the House, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, would set penalties for mandated reporters who don’t file complaints with law enforcement. The bill names lawyers as among the mandated reporters, but only those who are affiliated with organizations responsible for children.
The two bills received unanimous support on final votes.