Gov. Wolf signs bill to hike penalties for endangering children

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation to increase penalties for endangering the safety of children.

House Bill 217, now Act 12 of 2017, allows courts to consider the age of the child and the degree of harm done.

Child endangerment will be a third-degree felony when someone’s actions create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. If the endangerment was part of a pattern of conduct, the offense will be a second-degree felony. The grading will be increased one level if the child is under 6 years old.

The new law also requires courts to consider ordering counseling for those convicted of child endangerment.

Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) said he authored the bill following the 2010 death of an 11-month-old boy, Heath Ryder, who was shaken and tossed by a 9-year-old girl when she was left unsupervised with the infant at a home daycare near Shippensburg.

Kauffman said although the girl was charged and went through the juvenile court system, the boy’s adult caregiver faced lesser charges due to limitations in the law.

The new law takes effect in two months.

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