Pa. considers broadening definition of ‘child abuse’

    In an effort to flag more incidents of suspected mistreatment, Pennsylvania lawmakers are getting ready to move forward with proposals to expand the state’s definition of child abuse.

    The changes come at the suggestion of a task force convened last year to study child-protection laws and issues.He says the commonwealth’s legal definition of child abuse must be expanded and made clearer, said attorney Jason Kutulakis, a member of the panel.

    “It’s not just prosecuting. It’s identifying a child who’s been harmed so they can be provided services – medical services, social services, mental health services where appropriate,” he said.

    An array of other child-protection measures has been proposed based on recommendations of the panel, but lawmakers say addressing the legal definition of child abuse is the most crucial of them.

    Proposals to change the definition have been introduced in the House and Senate.

    The House plan is scheduled for a committee vote next week.

    No action is scheduled on the Senate proposal, but one senator says he thinks it will make it out of the full chamber in the fall.

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