Birmelin's committee conducts hearing on child abuse legislation

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:55

    HARRISBURG - Legislation to help ensure children's safety by mandating school personnel to be trained on the signs of child abuse was the focus of a recent hearing by the House Children and Youth Committee, according to Rep. Jerry Birmelin (R-Wayne/Pike/Monroe). House Bill 1617 would require that school employees who are mandated child abuse reporters attend a child abuse training course offered by the school district at least once a year. "A member of the House brought an incident to the committee's attention where school personnel in Union County reported a child with a skin rash as a suspected case of child abuse," said Birmelin, chairman of the committee. Rep. Russ Fairchild (R-Snyder/Union) met with the child's parents who said the report of suspected child abuse triggered an investigation that caused great dismay and anxiety to the family. Fairchild subsequently sponsored House Bill 1617. "House Bill 1617 is a good idea worth exploring," Birmelin said. "The individuals who testified today helped the committee appreciate the scope of the issue." Due to the painful course of the investigation on both the parents and the child, the parents, Paul and Robin Arner, testified at the hearing that they want to make sure this does not happen to another family and support the legislation. The state's Child Protective Services Law requires that those who in the course of their employment, occupation or profession, come in contact with children must report suspected child abuse. School administrators, teachers and nurses are among those listed in the law as individuals who are required to report abuse. There is no requirement that a mandated reporter receive training on the recognition of child abuse or on how to report suspected child abuse; however, training is made available to mandated reporters.