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Pa. Senate advances 6 bills on child abuse

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — Six bills designed to strengthen child abuse laws in Pennsylvania as a result of the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy molestation scandals won the unanimous approval of state senators on Wednesday, as lawmakers pursue the first broad update to the laws in nearly two decades.

The measures approved by the Senate would set broader rules for who can be considered a perpetrator of child abuse and a clearer list of who must report a case of suspected child abuse to authorities.

One bill would increase the punishment for people found guilty of covering up child abuse.

Another measure would require medical professionals to report a case of suspected child abuse immediately to the county child welfare agency, while requiring the agency to disclose certain information to certain medical professionals.

A third bill would ensure that the identity of an attacker does not need to be determined before a case of child abuse is included in the state's official statistics. It addresses a persistent complaint by child welfare advocates who say that requirement has kept the state's official statistics on cases of child abuse artificially low.

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