THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY VANCE, WARD, PILEGGI, BROWNE, EARLL, FOLMER, ORIE, WASHINGTON, BOSCOLA, FONTANA, FERLO AND BREWSTER, MARCH 7, 2011
REFERRED TO AGING AND YOUTH, MARCH 7, 2011
Amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the definition
of "child abuse."
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The definition of "child abuse" in section
6303(b) of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is
amended to read:
§ 6303. Definitions.
* * *
(b) Child abuse.--
(1) The term "child abuse" shall mean any of the
(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a
perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious physical
injury to a child under 18 years of age.
(ii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which
causes nonaccidental serious mental injury to or sexual
abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of
(iii) Any recent act, failure to act or series of
such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which
creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or
sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18
years of age.
(iv) Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator
constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or
the failure to provide essentials of life, including
adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or
development or impairs the child's functioning.
(1.1) It shall be considered child abuse if a child
tests positive at birth for a controlled substance as defined
in section 2 of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64),
known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic
Act, unless the child tests positive for a controlled
substance as a result of the mother's lawful intake of the
substance as prescribed.
(2) No child shall be deemed to be physically or
mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from
environmental factors that are beyond the control of the
parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as
inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical
(3) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines
that a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical
care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the
child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
bona fide religion, the child shall not be deemed to be
physically or mentally abused. The county agency shall
closely monitor the child and shall seek court-ordered
medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical
care threatens the child's life or long-term health. In cases
involving religious circumstances, all correspondence with a
subject of the report and the records of the Department of
Public Welfare and the county agency shall not reference
"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for
the child's condition, and the family shall be referred for
general protective services, if appropriate.
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.