PFSA Urges Stronger Focus On Strengthening Families, Treating Addiction & Preventing Child Abuse

PA Annual Child Abuse Report shows uptick in child abuse cases and child near fatalities

Harrisburg, PA – PA Annual Child Abuse Report shows uptick in child abuse cases and child near fatalities Parental opioid/heroin use poses life-threatening risk to children.

Angela M. Liddle, MPA, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, the state leader in child protection, issued the following statement in response to the PA Department of Human Services’ 2017 Annual Child Protective Services Report. The report found that 40 children died due to child abuse in Pennsylvania in 2017 and 88 children nearly died of abuse. All told, 4,836 children were the victims of child abuse in Pennsylvania last year.

“We ask every Pennsylvanian to take a few moments to read this report and to remember that behind each one of these numbers is a child – a precious, innocent human being– who cries out for our compassion and our protection. We ask every Pennsylvanian to remember that child abuse is preventable and that each one of us has a role to play in keeping kids safe in this commonwealth.

“As you read this report, you will discover that 40 Pennsylvania children lost their lives to the horror of abuse and another 88 children nearly succumbed to their injuries at the hands of an abuser. These numbers are staggering and unacceptable.

“Between 2016 and 2017, there were 3,129 more reports of suspected child abuse and 487 more cases of substantiated abuse. Those increases seem to reflect the changes in law since the Sandusky scandal that increased the number of mandated reporters and the scope of perpetrators while also raising awareness more broadly of the need to recognize and report suspected child abuse.

“Sexual abuse remains the largest category of child abuse accounting for nearly half of the cases in Pennsylvania. And what is also apparent from this report is that family members – mothers, fathers, paramours, and kin – commit the vast majority of child abuse in the commonwealth. We encourage permissive reporters, individuals who are not mandated reporters, to call ChildLine at 800-932-0313 if they suspect child abuse and we salute the 8,482 permissive reporters – an increase over 2016 – who made these calls last year on behalf of a child. They are lifesavers.

“A particularly haunting aspect of the report that cries out for attention is the fact that 13 of the children killed last year were under age one and 19 were between the ages of one and four. Early childhood can be a dangerous time for some children in Pennsylvania. We must address the stresses on parents during those earliest years of their children’s lives and we must be vigilant to look for signs of maltreatment in young children.

“When you examine more closely the near fatalities, there are significant increases in three main areas that cause alarm:

  1. The delay or failure to provide medical care for illness or injury (cases where children have medical conditions for which parents/caregivers fail to seek appropriate care);
  2. Ingestion of medications;
  3. Malnutrition/dehydration.

“It is clear that there are a significant number of children who were known to child welfare agencies (60 of the 88 children who nearly died were known to the child welfare system.) We hope this serves as an opportunity for the Wolf administration to consider using federal Families First funding in a flexible way to bolster prevention measures that would specifically address these critical areas that led to near fatalities and other instances of abuse of children.

“The DHS report shows an uptick of child abuse in urban areas while the rate of abuse in rural counties remains fairly constant. The sad truth is that no community is free of child abuse in Pennsylvania. It is that reality that drove PFSA to establish the PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids movement to highlight the heroes among us who protect children from harm and to awaken in each of us the drive to keep kids safe.

“Use this report as a call to action to become involved in efforts to protect kids. Visit or call us at 800-448-4906 to find a parent-support and education program near you or participate in a training program to learn how to recognize and report child abuse. Together, we can make Pennsylvania safe for our children and create communities where they can grow and thrive free from abuse and neglect.”

ABOUT PFSA: Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance prevents child abuse and protects children from harm by helping parents learn positive parenting techniques, educating professionals and volunteers who work with children to recognize and report child abuse, and helping community members learn how they can play a positive role in keeping children safe. To learn more about our programs, schedule a training, or make a donation, please visit, or call 800-448-4906.

Subscribe To Our

Mailing List