Pennsylvania’s Stories of the Decade: Child protection failings dominated

CNHI News Service

Dec. 29, 2019

By John Finnerty

The state’s struggle to confront and combat abuse and neglect of children struck at the heart of three of the biggest stories of the past decade in Pennsylvania.

That includes revelations of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, as well as abuse by Catholic priests across the state. Advocates for children have noted that the opioid epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives through overdoses has also wrought havoc on families and contributed to neglect and abuse of children.

While the state has responded to the scandals in a variety of ways, it’s clear that a solution that makes a far-reaching impact on efforts to help children remains elusive, said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, a Berks County-based advocacy group focusing on efforts to better protect children.

Palm said public outrage over the crimes of Sandusky and the hundreds of predator priests identified in grand jury investigations has translated into improved awareness about the harm caused by sexual abuse of children.

But that hasn’t necessarily translated into attention and action to help children harmed in other ways, including other forms of physical abuse and neglect.

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