A new law will increase the penalties for abusing and neglecting kids in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 217, “renewing the commonwealth’s commitment to the safety of its children and increasing penalties for those who carelessly and flagrantly endanger them.”
“Our children are the most precious and vulnerable members of our society,” Wolf said in a release. “We need to protect them from harm and ensure that they can grow up in a safe environment so that they can develop into successful and happy adults. This bill will strengthen the child endangerment laws in Pennsylvania — and will help to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children have the chance to live and grow safely.”
According to Wolf’s office, the law will let courts consider an endangered child’s age and how much harm was done in considering prosecution.
“What a great week for Pennsylvania for protection of our most precious loved ones. The Endangering Welfare of Children statute used to be a maximum of (a second-degree felony) and could only be graded as (a first-degree misdemeanor) when it occurred as a single act of malfeasance,” Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said.
Wolf’s office said those aspects “work by increasing the penalty based on the degree of harm the child is placed in by the individual and increasing the penalty by one grade if the child is under six years old.”
“Children’s safety is our top priority and these new aspects of the law are long overdue and very welcome by prosecutors and police who have seen the past law be inadequate and have been pushing for change. One only needs to see the case that prompted it to understand why it was needed,” Parks Miller said.