The Pennsylvania Child Abuse Laws is defined under code section 23&6303. When a certain act causes non-accidental serious physical injury, serious physical neglect constituting repeated or prolonged lack of supervision, sexual abuse or exploitation or failure to provide essentials of life, it is considered as an abuse (Thomson Reuters Business; 2009). The standard for reporting cases of child abuse and neglect is first, to acquire a reasonable cause to suspect (within their respective training) that a child has been neglected or abused.
The persons required to report such cases are: any licensed physician, medical examiners, osteopaths, coroners, dentists, funeral directors, chiropractors, optometrists, intern, podiatrist, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, Christian Science practitioners, hospital personnel, members of the clergy, school nurses, school administrators, school teachers, daycare center workers, social workers, mental health professionals, any law-enforcement official or peace-officer and any foster or child care worker (Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect; 2004).
Child abuse and neglect cases must be directly reported to the Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth. Specific agencies are designated by each state to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. In the case of Pennsylvania, one may visit the website at http://www. dpw. state. pa. us/Child/ChildAbuseNeglect/ or call the Toll-Free hotline: (800) 932-0313 for direct reporting (Child Abuse Reporting Numbers by State). Why would one report child abuse if one suspects it?
First, there is a need to re-evaluate the situation: what if it was a family member or a close friend who is being abused (and you are not aware of it)? Thus, there is a need to assume responsibility regardless if the victim involved is related to you or not. There is also a need to be aware of the existing laws involved so as to know one’s ground for reporting child abuse cases. Second, failure to report or false reporting is accorded with subsequent penalties (Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect; 2004).
In the case of Pennsylvania, any person that is required and fails to make a suspected child abuse report is guilty of offense for the first violation; second and subsequent offenses is considered misdemeanor in third degree. A first degree offense is accorded with a $200 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days. A second degree offense is accorded with a $100 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 20 days; third and fourth degree offenses are accorded with $50 and $25 fines respectively (Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect; 2004).
A third degree misdemeanor is accorded with a fine not less than $250 but not more than $5000 or not exceeding 90 days of imprisonment (or both). Under the Pennsylvania Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect, however, 23 Pa. C. S. & 6311 states that privileged communications should be denied (between clients and professionals) when dealing with child abuse and neglect situations and is protected under 42 PA. CS.
& 5943 (relating to confidential communications to clergy men): “The privileged communication between any professional person required to report and the patient or client of that person shall not apply to situations involving child abuse”; and thus, is not considered as grounds for failure to report (Thomson Reuters Business; 2009). References “Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect: State Statutes and Professional Ethics” (2004): Journal “Pennsylvania Child Abuse Laws (2009); Thomson Reuters Business: Article “Child Abuse Reporting Numbers by State)”; Child Welfare Information Gateway: Article .