House Adopts Child Protection Measures

House Republicans are working to adequately address the way Pennsylvania identifies, prevents and prosecutes child abuse. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, the House has taken up the call to strengthen Pennsylvania’s child protection laws to make the Commonwealth safer for all children.

After Sandusky’s indictment, the Pennsylvania General Assembly responded by creating the Task Force on Child Protection which examined existing laws and held 11 public meetings to hear testimony from victims and experts who gave specific recommendation on how to improve Pennsylvania law to protect children from abuse.

Last November, the Task Force produced a 427-page report which included many specific recommendations for how to improve Pennsylvania law. 

Returning to Session in January, the House began work right away with a number of hearings and meetings on the report and its recommendations, through the Judiciary Committee and the Children and Youth Committee. Currently, the House is in the process of enacting the responsible recommendations into law, reforming Pennsylvania law to protect children from abuse.

Legislation to strengthen Pennsylvania's child protection laws

NCAA Fine Endowment (Act 1 of 2013/SB 187) – Directs that monetary penalties placed on Commonwealth-supported institutions of higher education be deposited into an endowment fund in the State Treasury.

House Bill 90 authorizes an administrative subpoena, from the attorney general or a district attorney, to obtain the IP address and the name, address and phone number of the subscriber in child sex exploitation cases.

House Bill 89 and House Bill 316 provides a dedicated funding source to Child Advocacy Centers, and redirect funds from a defunct state program currently being unused to Child Advocacy Centers.

House Bill 350 enhances penalties for simple assaults and aggravated assaults against those who injure children.

House Bill 378 enacts new requirements that police officers and judges be trained in recognizing and reporting child abuse.

House Bill 404 adds child abuse findings to those factors to be considered at child custody hearings.

House Bill 321 establishes a new sentencing enhancement for those convicted of possessing or viewing child pornography.

House Bill 328 allows a court considering a Protection from Abuse proceeding to receive and review information about child abuse findings against the defendant.

House Bill 414 creates a new criminal offense for those who intimidate or retaliate against someone who reports child abuse.

House Bill 429 protects people who report suspected abuse in good faith from employment discrimination.

The package reflects the commitment of every member of the State House to helping children and protecting them from the horrors of abuse, as well as bringing their perpetrators to justice.