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Pennsylvania Child Abuse Laws

Pennsylvania child abuse laws, like the abuse laws found in other states, fall under the criminal or penal code. The crime is broadly defined to include any type of cruelty inflicted on a child, such as mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, and neglect. Charges for physical child abuse often include assault and battery. Additionally, child abuse laws include provisions requiring certain adults with access to children (such as teachers and doctors) to report signs of abuse.

Pennsylvania Statutes

Keep in mind, state child abuse laws can differ depending on your jurisdiction. Below, you'll find a general overview of Pennsylvania child abuse laws, mandatory reporting requirements, and penalties for failure to report.

Code Section

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23, § 6303, et seq.

What Constitutes Abuse

Act which causes non-accidental serious physical injury, sexual abuse/exploitation, serious physical neglect constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or failure to provide essentials of life

Mandatory Reporting Required By

Physician, coroner, dentist, chiropractor, hospital personnel, Christian Science practitioner, clergy, school teacher/nurse/administrator, social services worker, day care or child center worker, mental health professional, peace officer, law enforcement official, funeral director, foster care worker

Basis of Report of Abuse/Neglect

Reasonable cause to suspect (within their respective training) that child is abused

To Whom Reported

Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth

Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting

Summary offense for 1st violation; misdemeanor in 3rd degree for 2nd and subsequent offenses

Related Statutes Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, § 4304: Endangering Welfare of Children

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Child abuse is when a parent or a caretaker emotionally, physically, or sexually, neglects, abuses, or abandons a child. Laws regarding child abuse seek to protect children from serious harm while affording parents the opportunity to raise and discipline their children as they see fit. Many people are unaware how often child abuse occurs in the United States: each year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made, involving almost 6 million children, and every day 4 or 5 children are killed by child abuse or neglect. Find the resources available in your state or visit FindLaw’s Where to Get Help for Child Abuse article for more information on what you can do if you suspect a child is being abused.

To research out more general information about this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s child abuse section.

Charged with Violating Pennsylvania Child Abuse Laws? Contact a Lawyer

The physical, emotional, and psychological effects of child abuse can be extreme, and it's best to report possible child abuse cases to the authorities as soon as possible. And, a conviction of child abuse can have lasting negative effects on your life. So, if you've been charged with child abuse in Pennsylvania, it's in your best interest to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can explain the possible penalties you're facing and the defense available to you.

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