AN ACT

 

1Amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania
2Consolidated Statutes, in child protective services, further
3providing for definitions and for investigation of reports;
4and providing for factors to consider when investigating
5child abuse.

6The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
7hereby enacts as follows:

8Section 1. The definitions of "child," "nonaccidental,"
9"recent acts or omissions," "serious physical injury" and
10"sexual abuse or exploitation" in section 6303(a) of Title 23 of
11the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended, subsection
12(a) is amended by adding definitions and subsection (b) is
13amended to read:

14§ 6303. Definitions.

15(a) General rule.--The following words and phrases when used
16in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this
17section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

18* * *

1"Bodily injury." Impairment of physical condition or
2substantial pain.

3"Child." [Includes] An individual under 18 years of age. The 
4term includes a newborn.

5* * *

6"Nonaccidental." [An injury that is the result of an
7intentional act that is committed with disregard of a
8substantial and unjustifiable risk] Conduct that is knowing or 
9intentional or is committed with conscious disregard of a 
10substantial and unjustifiable risk.

11* * *

12"Recent [acts or omissions." Acts or omissions] act or 
13failure to act." Any act or failure to act committed within two
14years of the date of the report to the Department of Public
15Welfare or county agency.

16* * *

17["Serious physical injury." An injury that:

18(1) causes a child severe pain; or

19(2) significantly impairs a child's physical
20functioning, either temporarily or permanently.]

21"Serious physical neglect." Any of the following when
22committed by a perpetrator that endangers a child's life or
23health, threatens a child's well-being, causes bodily injury or
24impairs a child's health, development or functioning:

25(1) A repeated, prolonged or egregious failure to
26supervise a child in a manner that is appropriate considering
27the child's developmental age and abilities.

28(2) The failure to provide a child with adequate
29essentials of life, including food, shelter or medical care.

30["Sexual abuse or exploitation." Any of the following:

1(1) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
2enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
3another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

4(2) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
5enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
6another individual to engage in simulation of sexually
7explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual
8depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer
9depicting and filming.

10(3) Any of the following offenses committed against a
11child:

12(i) Rape.

13(ii) Sexual assault.

14(iii) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

15(iv) Aggravated indecent assault.

16(v) Molestation.

17(vi) Incest.

18(vii) Indecent exposure.

19(viii) Prostitution.

20(ix) Sexual abuse.

21(x) Sexual exploitation.]

22"Sexual abuse or exploitation." Any of the following:

23(1) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
24enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
25another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct,
26which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

27(i) Looking at the sexual or other intimate parts of
28a child or another individual for the purpose of arousing
29or gratifying sexual desire in any individual.

30(ii) Participating in sexually explicit conversation 

1either in person, by telephone, by computer or by a 
2computer-aided device.

3(iii) Actual or simulated sexual activity or nudity
4for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of
5any individual.

6(iv) Actual or simulated sexual activity for the
7purpose of producing visual depiction, including
8photographing, videotaping, computer depicting or
9filming.

10This paragraph does not include consensual activities between
11a child who is 14 years of age or older and a person whose
12age is within four years of the child's age.

13(2) Any of the following offenses committed against a
14child:

15(i) Rape, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating
16to rape).

17(ii) Statutory sexual assault, as defined in
1818 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual
19assault).

20(iii) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as
21defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary
22deviate sexual intercourse).

23(iv) Sexual assault, as defined in
2418 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).

25(v) Institutional sexual assault, as defined in
2618 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2 (relating to institutional sexual
27assault).

28(vi) Aggravated indecent assault, as defined in
2918 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent
30assault).

1(vii) Indecent assault, as defined in
218 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

3(viii) Indecent exposure, as defined in
418 Pa.C.S. § 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).

5(ix) Incest, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 4302
6(relating to incest).

7(x) Prostitution, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 5902
8(relating to prostitution and related offenses).

9(xi) Sexual abuse, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312
10(relating to sexual abuse of children).

11(xii) Unlawful contact with a minor, as defined in
1218 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with
13minor).

14(xiii) Sexual exploitation, as defined in
1518 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of
16children).

17* * *

18(b) Child abuse.--

19(1) The term "child abuse" shall mean any of the
20following:

21(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a
22perpetrator which causes nonaccidental [serious physical
23injury] bodily injury to a child [under 18 years of age].

24(ii) An act or failure to act, or a series of such 
25acts or failures to act, by a perpetrator which causes, 
26or substantially contributes to, nonaccidental serious
27mental injury to [or] a child.

28(iii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator 
29which causes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a
30child [under 18 years of age].

1[(iii)] (iv) Any recent act, failure to act or
2series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator
3which creates [an imminent] a substantial and 
4unjustifiable risk of [serious physical injury] bodily 
5injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a
6child [under 18 years of age].

7[(iv)] (v) Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator
8[constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision
9or the failure to provide essentials of life, including
10adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or
11development or impairs the child's functioning].

12(2) [No child shall be deemed to be physically or
13mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from
14environmental factors that are beyond the control of the
15parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as
16inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical
17care.

18(3) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines
19that a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical
20care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the
21child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
22child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
23bona fide religion, the child shall not be deemed to be
24physically or mentally abused. The county agency shall
25closely monitor the child and shall seek court-ordered
26medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical
27care threatens the child's life or long-term health. In cases
28involving religious circumstances, all correspondence with a
29subject of the report and the records of the Department of
30Public Welfare and the county agency shall not reference

1"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for
2the child's condition, and the family shall be referred for
3general protective services, if appropriate.] The term "child 
4abuse" does not include any of the following:

5(i) Physical or mental injuries that result solely
6from environmental factors that are beyond the control of
7the parent or person responsible for the child's welfare,
8such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing
9and medical care.

10(ii) A refusal to provide needed medical,
11psychological or surgical care that is the result of
12seriously held religious beliefs, consistent with those
13of a bona fide religion, by the child's parents, guardian
14or person responsible for the child's welfare.

15(iii) The use of force by a parent or guardian or
16other person similarly responsible for the general care
17and supervision of a child or a person acting at the
18request of the parent, guardian or their responsible
19person, if all of the following apply:

20(A) the force is used for the purpose of
21safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the child,
22including the prevention or punishment of the child's
23misconduct;

24(B) the force used is not designed to cause or
25known to create a substantial risk of causing death,
26serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain or
27mental distress or gross degradation; and

28(C) the use of force is reasonable considering
29the circumstances, the physical and mental maturity
30of the child and the physical and mental condition of

1the child.

2Section 2. Section 6368 of Title 23 is amended by adding a
3subsection to read:

4§ 6368. Investigation of reports.

5* * *

6(e) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines
7that a child has not been provided needed medical, psychological
8or surgical care because of seriously held religious beliefs of
9the child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
10child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
11bona fide religion, the county agency shall closely monitor the
12child and shall seek court-ordered medical intervention when the
13lack of medical or surgical care threatens the child's life or
14long-term health. In cases involving religious circumstances,
15all correspondence with a subject of the report and the records
16of the department and the county agency shall not reference
17"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for the
18child's condition, and the family shall be referred for general
19protective services, if appropriate.

20Section 3. Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:

21§ 6368.1.  Factors to consider when investigating child abuse.

22(a) Investigation of suspected physical abuse.--When
23investigating suspected physical abuse, the county agency shall
24consider all relevant factors, including the following:

25(1) Whether bodily injury occurred, based on an obvious
26bodily injury or a substantial likelihood that the child's
27injury caused substantial pain or impairment of physical
28condition during or after the time of injury, considering the
29age, size, physical and mental condition of the child.

30(2) Whether the injury was nonaccidental.

1(3) Whether the injury was caused by the alleged
2perpetrator's act or failure to act.

3(4) Whether the injury was caused by justifiable force
4that does not constitute child abuse under this chapter.

5(b) Investigation of suspected sexual abuse or
6exploitation.--When investigating suspected sexual abuse or
7exploitation, the county agency shall consider all relevant
8factors, including whether the alleged perpetrator's act or
9failure to act caused sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.

10(c) Investigation of suspected emotional abuse.--When
11investigating suspected emotional abuse, the county agency shall
12consider all relevant factors, including the following:

13(1) Whether serious mental injury occurred to the child.

14(2) Whether the serious mental injury was nonaccidental.

15(3) Whether the alleged perpetrator caused or
16substantially contributed to the serious mental injury.

17(d) Investigation of creation of risk.--When investigating
18whether suspected child abuse occurred by creating risk, the
19county agency shall consider all relevant factors, including the
20following:

21(1) Whether the alleged perpetrator's actions created
22foreseeable danger of bodily injury to or sexual abuse or
23exploitation of the child.

24(2) Whether the alleged perpetrator created a
25substantial and unjustifiable risk of bodily injury to or
26sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.

27(3) Whether the perpetrator's actions served any
28legitimate purpose.

29(e) Investigation of suspected serious physical neglect.--
30When investigating suspected serious physical neglect, the

1county agency shall consider all relevant factors, including the
2following:

3(1) Whether the alleged perpetrator was responsible for 
4providing the supervision of the child or the essentials of 
5life that was not provided to the child.

6(2) Whether the alleged perpetrator knew or should have
7known that the child was in need of adequate essentials of
8life or age-appropriate supervision.

9(3) Whether the child's life or health was endangered,
10the child's well-being was threatened, bodily injury was
11caused to the child, or the child's health, development or
12functioning was impaired.

13(4) Whether a failure to supervise the child was
14repeated, prolonged or egregious given the physical and
15mental maturity of the child and the physical and mental
16condition of the child.

17(5) Whether the child lacked adequate food, shelter or
18timely medical care.

19Section 4. This act shall take effect in 60 days.

 

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