Changes to Pa. child abuse laws go into effect

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A new definition of child abuse and changes regarding who must report it are in effect in Pennsylvania, part of the state’s response to the Jerry Sandusky and clergy sex abuse scandals.

The set of laws that took effect Wednesday largely involve Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law.

The definition of child abuse no longer requires severe pain and serious impairment. Now, substantial pain constitutes the existence of abuse.

There’s a wider definition of those who must report suspected abuse, and they must contact the state directly, not just a supervisor or someone designated to make such reports. There are also steeper penalties for those who do not report suspected abuse.

Child welfare advocates must get new training, and people who work with children must undergo periodic comprehensive background checks.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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