|I plan to introduce legislation to address the recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection established by SR 250, by amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to comprehensively strengthen Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws.
The amendments to Title 18 mirror the changes being offered to the Child Protective Services law of Title 23 (Domestic Relations). Specifically, the bill would do the following:
- Lowers the age of a perpetrator for enhanced penalty for simple assault (18 Pa.C.S. §2701). Currently, simple assault is a 2nd degree misdemeanor unless it involves injury to a child under the age of 12 by an adult over the age of 21, in which case it is a 1st degree misdemeanor. The bill revises this by lowering the perpetrator age of 21 to 18.
- Adds categories to what constitutes aggravated assault (18 Pa.C.S. §2702). The offense of aggravated assault is amended to include (1) causing bodily injury to a child under the age of 4 as a felony of the third degree, (2) causing serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 12 as a felony of the second degree and (3) causing serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 4 as a felony of the first degree.
- Amends the offense of endangering the welfare of children (18 Pa.C.S. §4304). Intentionally or knowingly preventing or interfering with the making of a child abuse report or intentionally or knowingly preventing the discovery of an abused or neglected child is added to the definition of the offense. Additionally, any adult residing in the home of the child or paramour of the parent of the child who has knowledge or reason to believe the child is being endangered and fails to report the endangerment also violates this provision. Preventing the discovery of an abused or neglected child is a 3rd degree felony under the bill.
- Creates a new offense that addresses intimidation or retaliation in child abuse cases (18 Pa.C.S. §4958). A person who intimidates or attempts to intimidate any reporter, victim or witness from making a report of suspected child abuse; tampers with evidence; gives a false or misleading report; eludes or ignores legal requests regarding child abuse proceedings; fails to appear or participate in a child abuse proceeding; or retaliates against a reporter, victim or witness is guilty of a 2nd degree felony if the person uses or threatens to use force, violence or deception or offers pecuniary benefits to intimidate, deter or retaliate against a reporter, victim or witness.
If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact my office at 717-787-1349.