The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare released its 2013 Annual Child Abuse Report today, which shows more reports of suspected child abuse in 2013 than any other year on record, but a decrease in substantiated reports from 2012.
Over the past year Governor Corbett has worked with the legislature to enact new laws and amend others that will help ensure that the children of Pennsylvania are better protected in their homes and communities. The new laws expanded the definition of child abuse and perpetrator and streamlined and clarified the mandatory child abuse reporting processes.
“We believe the increased awareness on the issue and information available on where to go to report suspected abuse has successfully empowered people to speak up,” Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth said. “Protecting children requires a partnership between the child welfare community, its partners and citizens to ensure child abuse and neglect are identified, reported and ultimately prevented.”
The annual report provides statistical data on child abuse cases in Pennsylvania and on continued efforts to better protect children from abuse and neglect.
“One case of child abuse and neglect will forever be one case too many. The effects of child abuse and neglect can last a lifetime,” Mackereth said. “Today, more Pennsylvanians are aware of the warning signs and are taking active steps for prevention. This report provides a picture of the challenges we face in Pennsylvania to eradicate child abuse and neglect.
“We have listened to the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection and acted on their recommendations to improve our state laws and procedures to better prevent, detect and respond to child abuse and neglect.”
The report showed that in 2013, ChildLine, Pennsylvania’s child abuse hotline, registered 26,944 reports of suspected abuse or neglect, an increase of 280 reports from the previous year. Pennsylvania substantiated 13 percent, or 3,425 reports of child abuse in 2013.
There were 38 substantiated child abuse related child fatalities in 2013, five more than the previous year. Every child fatality is closely examined by a child fatality review team to determine what, if any, risk factors may have contributed to the child’s death with an eye toward preventing future child fatalities.
“Successfully protecting all of Pennsylvania’s children requires a total team effort. Pennsylvania’s child welfare community, its partners, and all its citizens must work together in order to protect our children from abuse and neglect,” Mackereth said.
The 2013 Annual Child Abuse Report is available on the Department of Public Welfare’s website at www.dpw.state.pa.us. Click on publications and type in: “2013 Annual Child Abuse Report.”
To report suspected child abuse, call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.