Stephens Testifies on His Legislation to Require the Reporting of Child Abuse

HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) testified yesterday before the House Children and Youth Committee on the need for House Bill 436, his legislation to expand and clarify the definitions of who must report child abuse if he or she suspects that any harm has come to a child and to increase the penalties for those who fail to report abuse as required. This legislation largely tracks the recommendations of the Task Force on Child Protection empaneled following the issues at Penn State.    

Those required in the bill to report suspected child abuse include all school personnel, including those at colleges and universities; child care providers; religious leaders; physicians and other healthcare workers; social services workers; law enforcement officers; attorneys; librarians; emergency medical service providers; and employees and independent contractors of each of these entities.  

Stephens’ legislation also would require signs be posted in the work areas near computer and photographic technicians to explain how to report suspected child abuse should they uncover evidence of child abuse.  

“We need to provide more guidance to those who are mandated reporters of child abuse so everyone understands their obligations,” Stephens said. 

While Stephens’ bill fulfills a recommendation by the Task Force on Child Protection to clarify the law on who must report suspected child abuse, it also increases the penalties for failing to do so to a felony in some circumstances.  

The penalties for mandated reporters failing to report begin as a misdemeanor of the second degree. If the unreported abuse rises to the level of a first-degree felony, the penalty for mandated reporters not reporting the abuse becomes a third-degree felony. Interfering with the reporting of abuse would be a first-degree misdemeanor, rising to a felony of the second degree if the abuse is a first-degree felony. In addition, concealing the abuse to protect the offender would be, at minimum, a third-degree felony, rising to a first-degree felony if the abuse is considered a first-degree felony. 

House Bill 436 is expected to be voted on by the House Children and Youth Committee in the coming weeks. 

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster

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