HARRISBURG, Pa., April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today credited greater public education about the causes of child abuse as a primary reason the number of abuse cases has declined in Pennsylvania for the second straight year.
"The continuing decline in child abuse cases shows our proactive efforts to address the root causes of abuse are working," Corbett said.
The 2010 Annual Child Abuse Report, released in recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, shows there were 24,615 reports of suspected child abuse in the state last year, down from 25,342 reports in 2009 and 25,655 in 2008.
The number of substantiated reports of child abuse declined to 3,656 in 2010, down from 3,943 in 2009 and 4,201 in 2008. To be considered substantiated, there must be proof that abuse has occurred based on medical evidence, a child protective services investigation, an admission of guilt by an abuser or the ruling of a court.
"Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a strong network of state and local officials who work proactively with families and communities to not only report suspected child abuse, but also spot the risk factors that can lead to abuse," Corbett said. "The findings of this annual report show we are on the right track toward ensuring the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania's greatest resource – our children."
Governor Corbett's proposed budget for fiscal 2011-12 maintains funding levels for training in child abuse reporting and awareness.
The 2010 report also shows:
- Law enforcement officials received 8,654 abuse reports for possible criminal investigation and prosecution, representing 35 percent of all suspected abuse reports.
- Sexual abuse was found in 54 percent of all substantiated reports in 2010, an increase from 51 percent in 2009.
- Thirty-three Pennsylvania children died from abuse in 2010, 10 fewer than in 2009.
- The majority of Pennsylvania counties – 35 of 67 – saw a decline in the number of abuse cases reported.
The majority of child abuse reports continue to come from mandated reporters - educators, doctors, law enforcement officials and others whose occupation or profession brings them into contact with children. In 2010, mandated reporters referred 18,972 reports of suspected abuse, representing 77 percent of all suspected abuse reports.
The Department of Public Welfare has worked closely with county children and youth agencies in recent years to better assess the safety of children who are referred to and involved with the child welfare system. In addition to building parenting knowledge and skills, such assessments look at factors including a family's disciplinary practices, the risk of substance abuse by household members, and the ability of parents to protect their children. For any threat that cannot be readily mitigated, a safety plan is developed with the family.
The department also maintains a central registry for abuse reports and operates ChildLine, a toll-free, 24-hour hotline that allows anyone to anonymously report suspected abuse. The number is 1-800-932-0313 (TDD 1-866-872-1677).
To read the full report or find more information on child abuse awareness and prevention, visit the Department of Public Welfare's website at www.dpw.state.pa.us. The report can be found under the "Publications" section.
Michael Race, Department of Public Welfare; 717-425-7606
Kirsten Page, Governor's Office; 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor