Preventing Child Neglect in Pennsylvania

Childcare is one of the most persistent issues that the government faces today. In 2008, authorities reported that Pennsylvania spends $3. 55 billion annually for child neglect and abuse alone (“Child Abuse and Neglect Cause Pennsylvania 3. 55 Billion Per Year,” 2008). This implies the rampant and serious disregard of children’s rights by many parents and caregivers. Apparently, many parents do not know their responsibility in bringing up a child. In this view, there is a great need to investigate on the precautionary measures that the government of Pennsylvania and helping agencies are implementing in order to avoid crime against children.

This paper enumerates the current measures that the Pennsylvania government implements at present, and the actions that they should take in order to prevent child neglect. According to the Web site American Humane Association (2010), “child neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment in the United States. ” In 2005, of the approximately 899,000 children who suffered from abuse and neglect, 564, 765 suffered from neglect alone (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). Neglect can come in four different forms.

These include (1) physical neglect or the inability to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, clothes, etc. , (2) medical neglect or the inability to provide proper medical attention, which results in poor health or compounding medical problems, (3) educational neglect or the failure to send the child to school or provide interventions for learning disability, and (4) emotional neglect, the failure to provide emotional support, encouragement or guidance to a child. The United States Constitution strictly prohibits child neglect.

According to the American Bar Association (2004), “child neglect or child endangerment occurs when parents or legal guardians willfully fail to meet a child’s basic needs. ” Similarly, NCANDS defines neglect as “a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so” (USDHHS, 2007). Neglecting a child can cause the victim to have serious problems or even death. To prevent this, authorities should be serious in implementing the law to prevent its occurrence.

As always, imprisonment or imposition of heavy fines would help provide precedence for others to avoid punishment and damages. Every state has its own regulations and ethics relevant to child neglect and abuse. Generally, mandatory reporting is regulated in all states. In Pennsylvania, failure to report child neglect and/or abuse on the first instance is punishable by imprisonment of not more than 90 days or a fine of $200 USD while a second or succeeding offense could result in a fine of $100 USD or imprisonment not exceeding 20 days (“Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect,” 2004).

Notably, the penalties for failing to report child neglect and abuse are very minimal compared to other states. In Rhode Island and South Carolina, for example, the penalty for the same crime is a fine of not more than $500 USD or/and imprisonment of not more than one year. The fine is twice more than the penalty imposed in Pennsylvania on the first instance, and five times on the second while the length of imprisonment is four times longer, thus suggesting lenience in the said state. This provides an overview of the reason behind the many cases of child neglect and abuse in Pennsylvania.

The responsibility of reporting child neglect and abuse should be in the hands of every individual. This is to ensure a child-friendly community, one that is free from abusive or negligent treatment of children. However, this is true only for some states. Again, in Pennsylvania, the responsibility to report child neglect and abuse is limited to professionals such as medical practitioners, teachers, religious persons, and police officers. This is in contrast to other states which hold everyone responsible despite personal status/profession.

The Department of Public Welfare (2008) is the official government office that handles reports on child neglect and abuse. It has a special action unit called the ChildLine and Abuse Registry Intake Unit available 24 hours a day, designed primarily to handle calls or reports of suspected child neglect and abuse. It also has a Web site where one can see further information regarding the office’s other services. Anyone who intends to report child neglect and abuse may note the office’s number from the Web site, but should make sure to write it down because it is not a hotline number that can be easily memorized such as 911.

Aside from government institutions, private agencies help to fight child neglect. Among them is Prevent Child Abuse in America, which was established in 1972 to raise awareness about child neglect and abuse, and help in its prevention. In Pennsylvania in 2008, the PCA America recognized the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization composed of thousands of pediatricians who advocate the well-being of infants and children.

With help from PCA America, the AAP currently promotes public awareness of children’s rights and protection by means of information campaigns, lectures, contests, and other programs for parents and caregivers. The role of the government of Pennsylvania in implementing laws governing child neglect and abuse is very customary while the contribution of private agencies is very significant to ensure prevention of crimes against children. With proper collaboration, the two agencies will be successful in improving the current state of children. However, the fact that the state government spends $3.

55 billion just to fund child neglect and abuse cases makes it necessary for the state government to review its rules and implementation. Importantly, prevention of crimes against children will not be successful if only some will be held responsible. Therefore, like other states that have identified everyone responsible for reporting crimes, Pennsylvania should take it a consideration to do the same. More importantly, children themselves should be taught to report their own experiences so as to forewarn parents and caregivers of probable neglect.

Furthermore, penalties imposed on perpetrators and those who fail to report neglect and abuse should be increased in order to effect a stronger policy. References American human association. (2010). Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://www. americanhumane. org/about-us/newsroom/fact-sheets/child-neglect. html Child abuse and neglect cause Pennsylvania $3. 55 per year. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from PR Newswire http://www. prnewswire. com/news-releases/child-abuse-and-neglect-cost-pennsylvania-355-billion-per-year-90745329.

html Child neglect. (2004). In American Bar Association Family Legal Guide. Third Edition. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://public. findlaw. com/abaflg/flg-3-3g-1. html Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect: State statutes and professional ethics. (2004). Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://www. ndaa. org/pdf/mandatory_reporting_state_statutes. pdf Pennsylvania department of public welfare. (2008). Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www. dpw. state. pa. us/servicesprograms/childwelfare/003671030. htm

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