HARRISBURG: Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) called the findings of the Pennsylvania Task Force for Child Protection a solid step forward in better protecting children from abuse.
“Many of these recommendations will go a long way toward protecting the victims of child abuse and prosecuting those who prey on our most defenseless victims,” Stephens said. “Our job in the Legislature is to study the report and make sure legislation is written and passed to protect Pennsylvania’s children.”
Stephens introduced legislation in 2011 to address failures he saw in Pennsylvania’s child protection statutes but rather than working on a piecemeal approach to address the issues, the legislature opted to delay consideration of bills in this area until a task force could review all aspects of protecting the Commonwealth’s children. The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, an 11-member panel was created by the Legislature and charged with reviewing the laws, procedures, practices and rules relating to the reporting of child abuse. The task force issued its report today after a year of study, public hearings and written testimony.
Among the many task force recommendations are reforms to the mandatory reporting requirements that Stephens initially proposed reforming. While the task force’s recommendations are not identical, the task force also suggested expanding those required to report suspected abuse to include college administrators and employees, coaches, lawyers and computer repair people who encounter images of child abuse.
“This is something I strongly support, and I’ve already introduced legislation to hold those who fail to act criminally accountable,” Stephens said. Earlier this year, Stephens introduced House Bill 2169 to require anyone with knowledge of child sex abuse to report the crime or face criminal penalties.
The task force also said people who discover child abuse should be required to report it directly to Child Line, the state’s child abuse hotline. This is an attempt to hold all caretakers, including school employees, responsible and reduce incidents of employees sending reports along a chain of command that could slow the process of rescuing endangered children.
“I want to personally thank the members of the task force for their work and dedication,” Stephens said. “They have given us solid recommendations, and I am working vigorously to enact the legislation that is necessary to protect our kids.”
State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives