Free training to help recognize child abuse

In order to combat increasing instances of child abuse, the state Department of Human Services has awarded a maximum five-year $2.5 million contract to Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance of Susquehanna Township to provide face-to-face on-site training to mandated reporters across the state.

23 Pa.C.S.§ 6311 provides an exhaustive list of the mandated reporters and staff members of institutions who are required to report suspected child abuse and the basis for the same. These reporters will now have an opportunity to receive free training that will enable them to know how to recognize it and then properly report it.

The funds for the training will be arranged from a $10 increase in the cost of copies of birth certificates from the state Department of Health that was amended by State Representative Julie Harhart, R-Lehigh through House Bill 316 in 2014, increasing the cost from $10 to $20.

Child abuse gathered a lot of attention in 2011 when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke out wherein Jerry was charged for various instances of child abuse and sentenced to a minimum of thirty years and a maximum of ninety years in prison. Commonwealth v. Sandusky, 2013 PA Super 264.

Carlisle attorney Jason Kutulakis, an alliance member who served on state’s Task Force on Child Protection (formed after the Sandusky scandal was reported) stated that child abuse is happening every single day in every socio-economic corner of the commonwealth, and the scandal was just one of the high profile cases reported. He now feels that this move will help closing the circle that opened after the Sandusky debacle.

David Arnold, current president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association also mentioned a horrifying incident of child abuse of a six-month old baby girl who died of brain injuries after being inflicted with bites and burns from scalding water. She had multiple fractured bones and was believed to have been thrown against the wall by her father, but her mother, grandmother and even the health care professionals did not report these signs of abuse until it was too late.

Arnold also stated that as a result of such heart aching instances of child abuse, it becomes imperative that the parents, teachers, volunteers or anybody who oversee children know what child abuse is and how to report it in order to efficiently fight and end it.

Angela Liddle, President and CEO at Alliance favored the move and stated that the money spent on this training is money well spent and it makes a difference; and those who shall be trained will be five times more effective in intervening appropriately and accurately reporting child abuse. She further stated that the key to curbing child abuse lies in recognizing the signs of abuse and knowing how to report it.


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