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Police Fielding More Child Abuse Reports

SANATOGA PA – The series of laws approved in Pennsylvania during the past two years to protect children from abuse and neglect, portions of which took effect this year, have increased the number of alleged abuse cases being received by the Lower Pottsgrove police department, its chief told the Board of Commissioners.

Township “detectives have been fielding an influx of Childline reports,” Chief Michael Foltz said Oct. 5 (2015; Monday). They represent notifications from the state Department of Human Services’ Childline and Abuse Registry about potential incidents to be investigated. During September alone, his department received 10 cases from online referrals, Foltz stated in his monthly report.

He also noted the department is actively investigating:

  • A report of a sexual assault of a 6-year-old child alleged to have occurred during August (2015) in the Rolling Hills apartment complex; and
  • A pornography case that involves sexually explicit photos sent to a teen-age victim.

Additionally, the chief said, all officers are participating in online training on the state’s Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, which was amended this year. The course is offered by the virtual training network of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, of which Foltz is a member.

A Pennsylvania task force convened in 2012 subsequently made several recommendations on improving state laws to better protect children. That report has resulted so far in more than 20 different pieces of legislation to address the need, including those that expanded the list of mandated reporters of child abuse and broadened the definition of abuse.

The legal package also required local school volunteers to submit to a variety of criminal background and health checks to ensure the children with whom they worked were safe. The Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Spring-Ford school districts all made efforts before the current academic year began to determine their volunteers were in compliance.

Reports of alleged abuse can be made at any time either online, here, or by a toll-free phone call to 800-932-0313. The Childline system reported 29,273 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in 2014, an increase of more than 2,000 incidents over the 2013 total, according to a report issued in July for last year.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Oct. 5 meeting):

Photo from Google Images

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