Pennsylvania’s Current Efforts to Support Child Abuse Survivors

Pennsylvania has been home to many child abuse scandals. From the coverup of Jerry Sandusky’s abuses to the grand jury investigation into the Catholic dioceses, the issue of child abuse has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. More recently, our legislature has been grappling with what to do and how to help adult survivors of child abuse who want to seek justice against their perpetrators.

Specifically, adult survivors of child sexual abuse have been pressuring the legislature to pass a two-year retroactive window that would allow them to file a lawsuit against those who abused them. This two-year retroactive window would build upon a law from 2019 that extended the statute of limitations for victims by age 55 to pursue civil lawsuits.

Despite the efforts of adult survivors and some lawmakers, there has been a lot of legislative activity on this matter but still no final resolution.

Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi, who served as Speaker of the House for a brief time at the start of the 2023-24 legislative session, is a childhood victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. He has been a vocal proponent of extending the statute of limitations. He is also a staunch advocate for adult survivors and has encouraged institutions to eliminate the veil of secrecy that many put into place when dealing with matters of child abuse.

During his time as Speaker, Rozzi made abuse the single issue of focus in the General Assembly. In an interview with PennLive/The Patriot-News, Rozzi said his “priority is getting victims of childhood sexual assault their day in court to provide them justice, to provide them the truth, to allow them to expose their perpetrator to protect all the children in this Commonwealth from ever being sexually abused by their predators ever again.”

At the end of February, Rozzi achieved what he promised — two pieces of legislation that would reform Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims, opening a two-year window where survivors could finally get their justice. The bills still need to be reconciled with separate legislation passed by the Senate. But with each chamber advancing legislation, the progress is significant and real. As soon as the measures passed, Rozzi relinquished the gavel as Speaker.

At Pa Family Support Alliance, we know the long-term and devastating impact that abuses of every kind — physical, sexual, mental, emotional, verbal, and neglect — can have on children. That is why we are committed to raising awareness about child abuse prevention. Our mission is to educate not only professionals that work with children but the general public. By paying attention to the warning signs of child abuse and knowing how to report suspected cases, you could be the person that changes a child’s life for the positive.

Our organization will be paying close attention to what actions both the House and Senate take in the coming months on these statute of limitations measures. In the meantime, make sure you know the most common signs of child sexual, physical, and emotional/mental abuse.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe To Our

Mailing List