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While Federal legislation provides a foundation for the States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect, each individual State is responsible for defining child maltreatment within that State’s law . The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, or CAPTA, defines child abuse and neglect at a minimum as, "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm" .
Within the minimum standards for defining child abuse and neglect set by CAPTA, each state is responsible for providing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect. These definitions are typically located in two places within each individual State’s statutory code :
• Civil statutes provide definitions of child maltreatment to guide individuals who are mandated to identify and report suspected child abuse and determine the grounds for intervention by State child protection agencies and civil courts.
Many States, including Pennsylvania, recognize four major types of the maltreatment of children in their definitions including physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation, and emotional abuse .
2. a. i. WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT?
According to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, the term child abuse shall mean intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly doing any of the following to a child of 18 years of age or younger [16,17]:
• Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
2. a. ii. WHO IS A PERPETRATOR THROUGH AN ACT AND BY FAILURE TO ACT?
According to the Pennsylvania law, effective December 31, 2014, a ‘perpetrator’ means a person who has committed child abuse. The term includes only the following:
• A parent of the child
Only the following may be considered a perpetrator for failing to act:
“Commercial Sex Act” – Any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person
A ‘person’ responsible for the child’s welfare is a person who provides permanent or temporary care; supervision; mental health diagnosis or treatment; training; or control of a child in lieu of parental care, supervision, and control. The term includes any such person who has direct or regular contact with a child through any program, activity, or service sponsored by a school, for-profit organization, or religious or other not-for-profit organization .
2. a. ii. 1. INCLUSION OF SCHOOL EMPLOYEES
According to the Pennsylvania Code, school employees are among those who are mandated reporters and are required to report suspected child abuse and follow mandated reporting requirements . The definition of a school employee as can be found in the CPSL is: a ‘school employee’ is anindividual who is employed by a school or who provides a program, activity or service sponsored by a school. The term does not apply to administrative or other support personnel unless the administrative or other support personnel have direct contact with the children.
The inclusion of school employees for reporting child abuse includes all of the employees of either an independent contractor of a school entity as well as a school entity, which is defined as a public school, charter school, cyber charter school, private school, nonpublic school, intermediate unit, or vocational-technical school, who have direct contact with children. The definition of direct contact with children is "the possibility of care, supervision, guidance, or control of children or routine interaction with children."
School employees must complete training that covers a number of topics related to recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse as in accordance with the Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Training from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, specifically Act 126. These topics include :
• The recognition of the signs of abuse, which is defined as conduct that falls within the purview and reporting requirements under the Child Protective Services Law;
2. a. iii. ACT OR FAILURE TO ACT
"Recent act or failure to act." Any act or failure to act committed within two years of the date of the report to the department or county agency. 
Act is something that is done to harm or cause potential harm to a child. 
Failure to act is something that is NOT done to prevent harm or potential harm to a child. 
2. b. ALL CATEGORIES OF CHILD ABUSE
There are several different types of child abuse that are recognized in the state of Pennsylvania. These include: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse/exploitation, emotional abuse, and abandonment. Knowing the indicators or signs and symptoms is important for all those who come into contact with children on a regular basis to know what constitutes abuse and neglect and when it must be reported.
Physical child abuse can mean any of the following:
• Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes nonaccidental serious physical injury to a child under age 18
Where ‘serious bodily injury’ means bodily injury to the child that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ to the child.
‘Serious physical injury’ means an injury that causes a child severe pain or significantly impairing a child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
‘Nonaccidental’ means an injury that is the result of an intentional act that is committed with disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk to the child .
A child who is or has been physically abused can have sustained that abuse from anyone that they had come into contact with. According to the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, parents, or those who have a parental relationship to a child, accounted for approximately 61% of the substantiated abuse perpetrators and 11% of the perpetrators had been named in previous substantiated reports .
The abuse that a child sustains is not an accident. Some examples of physical child abuse are :
• Hitting and beating a child
There are many injuries that a child can sustain from being abused and indicators that can be used to help determine if there is a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. However, these indicators and injuries can also be found on children who have not been abused and will have an appropriate explanation as to how the child sustained the injuries .
• Unexplained bruises, welts, human bite marks, bald spots
There are also some indicators of physical abuse that you see in an adult who has been physically abusive to the child or children .
• Contradictory statements about child’s injury
The definition of physical neglect that can be found in Pennsylvania law states that serious physical neglect by a perpetrator is the prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide the essentials of life including water, food, shelter, and adequate medical care, that endangers a child’s life or development or impairs the child’s functioning .
Some examples and signs of child neglect include :
• Rejecting the child and not giving the child any love
Other signs that a child may exhibit if they are being neglected include :
• Not going to school regularly
Some indicators that may be seen in children who suffer from serious physical neglect include :
• Unattended medical needs
There are also some indicators that could possibly be seen in parents who are or have seriously neglected their child and these include :
• Disinterest in or rejection of child
Serious physical neglect
Any of the following when committed by a perpetrator that endangers a child's life or health, threatens a child's well-being, causes bodily injury or impairs a child's health, development or functioning:
Sexual Abuse or Exploitation
Pennsylvania Code defines child abuse as it relates to sexual abuse or exploitation as any of the following :
• An act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under the age of 18
The Pennsylvania Code defines sexual abuse or exploitation as any of the following :
• The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct, including, but not limited to, the following:
This paragraph does not include consensual activities between a child who is 14 years of age or older and another person who is 14 years of age or older and whose age is within four years of the child's age.
Child sexual abuse is defined as the involvement and coercion of children up to 14 years or adolescents who are 14-18 years of age in sexual activities that they, due to their developmental immaturity, are unable to fully comprehend and consciously consent to and which break family and social taboos .
The sexual abuse of a child can be committed by either a stranger or an individual who knows the child and includes any activity that the abuser does to the child to become sexually aroused. These acts can be manifested in different ways either with or without physical contact, including :
• Touching a child’s genitals
There are indicators that may be seen in children who are the victims of sexual abuse or exploitation, including :
• Pain or itching in the genital area
Indicators may also exist in parents who have sexually abused or exploited their child, including :
• Poor sexual relationship between parents
According to Pennsylvania Code, the term ‘child abuse’ includes an act or a failure to act by a perpetrator that causes nonaccidental serious mental injury to a child who is under the age of 18.
The term ‘serious mental injury’ means a psychological condition as is diagnosed by a physician or a licensed psychologist, including the refusal of appropriate treatment, that :
• Renders a child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or in reasonable fear that his or her life or safety is threatened
As with the other types of child abuse, there are some indicators that may be present in children who have suffered from emotional abuse. These indicators include :
• Consistent lack of supervision
There are also indicators that parents may present who have emotionally abused their child, including :
• Disinterest in or rejection of child
If a child is being emotionally abused, it may be difficult to see or to prove this type of abuse. However, emotional abuse often coincides when a child is also being physically or sexually abused. Some of examples of emotional abuse in a child can include :
• Not providing the child with a safe environment. The child witnesses violence or severe abuse between parents or adults
There are also some signs that a child may show if they are being emotionally abused, including :
• Problems in school
2. c. EXCLUSIONS TO CHILD ABUSE
The Pennsylvania Code also includes exclusions of specific acts and injuries from the definition of child abuse. The following are considered exclusions to the definition of child abuse :
• Environmental factors: No child shall be deemed to be physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from environmental factors, such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical care, that are beyond the control of the parent or person responsible for the child’s welfare with whom the child resides. This subsection shall not apply to any child-care service as defined in this chapter, excluding an adoptive parent.
It is important to remember that these exclusions are used by CPS when investigating reports of suspected child abuse and should not be considered exclusions by those who are making a report of child abuse.
2. c. i. EXCLUSION TO SUBSTANTIATING A REPORT VERSUS
It is important to remember that the exclusions listed in the previous section apply only to the substantiation of child abuse, they do not apply to the requirements of reporting suspected child abuse. Exclusions to substantiating a report are made after an investigation. An important note to remember is that a mandated reporter’s role is to report suspected child abuse, not to make an investigation into the suspected child abuse.
14. "State Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect." Child Welfare Information Gateway. n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
15. "What is child abuse and neglect? How does my state define child abuse and neglect?" Children’s Bureau An Office of the Administration for Children & Families. 3 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
16. "State Statutes Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect." Child Welfare Information Gateway. n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
17. Center, Legislativate Data Processing. "Title 23." Pennsylvania General Assembly. The official website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly., 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
18. "Subchapter E. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements." The Pennsylvania Code. n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
19. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau.
20. "Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Training Frequently Asked Questions." Pennsylvania Department of Education. Apr. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
21. "Abuse & Neglect Definition." Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
22. "State statutes search - Pennsylvania." Child Welfare Information Gateway. n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
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27. "Sexual abuse in children - what to know." Medline Plus. 1 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
28. "Child neglect and emotional abuse." Medline Plus. 1 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
29. "Exclusions from Child Abuse." The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center. n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
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