Learn more about child abuse, how to report it, and the services and procedures offered at UPMC Child Advocacy of Central Pa., formerly known as UPMC Pinnacle Children's Resource Center (CRC).
When it is suspected that a child has been neglected or sexually or physically abused, investigative agencies may refer a child to UPMC Child Advocacy of Central Pa. If the abuse is thought to have occurred within the last five days, the child may be referred to UPMC Child Advocacy of Central Pa. for an emergent appointment.
If a child is thought to have been sexually abused or assaulted within the past 5 days, and it is after 5 p.m.., the child may be seen at the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) Unit, which is in the Emergency Department at Harrisburg Hospital. Specially trained nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide care in the SAFE Unit for these children as well as for men and women who have been sexually assaulted. If you need care in the SAFE Unit, just go to Harrisburg Hospital's Emergency Department. The entrance to the Emergency Department is at Second and Chestnut Streets in Harrisburg.
More than 24,000 reports of suspected abuse or neglect of a child are made each year in Pennsylvania. This is probably only a fraction of the number of children actually abused, since research has shown that most child abuse is never reported.
According to the Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Law child abuse and neglect include serious non-accidental (intentional) physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, serious neglect, imminent (immediate) risk of serious physical injury, or imminent risk of sexual abuse or exploitation of children (under 18 years of age), caused by the act or failure to act (omissions) of a perpetrator.
Sexual abuse or exploitation is the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child (less than 18 years of age) to engage in, or to assist any other person to engage in, any sexual conduct or any simulation of any sexual conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction (images) of any sexual conduct, or depiction of the rape, molestation, incest, prostitution or other form of sexual exploitation of children.
It is unusual for children to lie about having been sexually or physically abused. If a child discloses abuse, believe him or her. If you are in doubt, remember: It's better to err on the side of safety for the child.
No. Your responsibility as an adult is to make a report when you suspect a child is being abused or neglected. County Children and Youth Agency caseworkers and law enforcement officers, based on their investigations, make decisions about whether there is sufficient evidence to indicate that a child has been abused or neglected. If your concern about what's happening to a child rises to the level of suspicion of abuse, you should report it.
No. Children and Youth Services or law enforcement officers investigate the report. You are not responsible for investigating abuse or neglect. If your concern about what's happening to a child rises to the level of suspicion of abuse, you should report it.
If you interact with children in the course of doing your job, you are a "mandated reporter," and you are required to report your suspicion of child abuse. It is important to know and adhere to your agency's policy about reporting suspicion of child abuse. Under the new CPSL law, the individual who suspects the abuse must report the abuse. That person is solely responsible for seeing that the report is made.
There are penalties for failing to report, ranging from a fine to imprisonment.
No. If you, as a mandated reporter, report your suspicion of child abuse in good faith, the law protects you from a lawsuit arising from your report.
The name of the reporter will remain confidential except to law enforcement officials and the district attorney's office.
If the investigation finds child abuse, you may be called to testify. In most cases, testimony occurs with minimal inconvenience.
Mandated reporters may request information about the status of their reports from the County Children and Youth Agency.
The goals of the Child Protective Services Act and County Children and Youth Agencies are to protect the child and preserve the family unit whenever possible. If the child is found to be in danger of continued harm, the child may be removed from the home unless the alleged perpetrator leaves the home. Through counseling, education and other social services, families can break the pattern of abuse and neglect and establish relationships free of physical, sexual and mental violence.
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