Panel recommends overhaul of Pennsylvania child-abuse laws

Philadelphia Inquirer

Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HARRISBURG – The special panel created in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal is calling for a complete overhaul in the way Pennsylvania addresses child abuse, from expanding the list of those who must report abuse to toughening laws that it said have failed to protect children.

A report issued Monday by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection recommends redefining what constitutes child abuse, expanding the definition of “perpetrator,” and enacting harsher penalties for those who fail to report abuse.

“We did our very best to improve a system that is woefully failing,” said the commission chairman, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler. “This was not a knee-jerk reaction. It was the seizing of an opportunity to look at a system and say, ‘How do we make this better?’ ”

Heckler referenced the event that led to the creation of the 11-member task force in January: the arrest of Sandusky, a former assistant Pennsylvania State University football coach who is now serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for molesting 10 boys.

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