District Attorneys Laud Enactment of Historic Child Protection Legislation

December 18, 2013

Urge Continued Efforts and Vigilance on Behalf of Children

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association lauded the enactment today of historic legislation that will improve Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws and better ensure that perpetrators of child abuse are held accountable.

“This package of legislation will literally transform how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse,” said PDAA President and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed. “Inadequate laws should never be the reason abused children fall through the cracks or allow those who abuse children get away with their despicable acts. Pennsylvania turns an important corner today in our efforts to protect our children.”

Included in the package of legislation signed by Governor Tom Corbett today were bills that: updated a woefully inadequate definition of child abuse; expanded who can be held responsible for abusing a child; increased penalties for creating, making, disseminating or viewing child pornography; and increased penalties for abusing a child under the age of six. Many of the bills were a result of recommendations made by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, led by Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler.

“Many individuals worked together to craft this legislation and are deserving of our recognition and thanks, including leaders and members of both the House and Senate and Pennsylvania’s child advocates,” said Freed. “In addition, I we owe personal and professional gratitude to PDAA’s friend and colleague, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler whose passion, tenacity, and sharp wit were invaluable not only as he chaired the task force, but also as he shepherded its recommendations through the legislative process.”

Legislative implementation of the task force’s recommendations remains a work in progress. Legislation to provide a permanent, dedicated funding stream for the state’s Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) is expected to be addressed sometime this spring. CACs provide a one-stop collaborative approach to assisting child abuse victims and their families with a mission that includes treatment, prosecution, and community education. There are currently 20 CACs in Pennsylvania.

“The legislation enacted today will help better protect children from child abusers,” said Heckler. “Our obligation to Pennsylvania’s children is to be vigilant on their behalf and I am optimistic that the collaborative effort that got us here today will soon result in dedicated support for Children’s Advocacy Centers.”