Pennsylvania Child Welfare Laws

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There are many child welfare laws in the state of Pennsylvania designed to protect children from negligent parents and guardians, as well as from those who are intentionally abusive, either emotionally or physically. According to Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6303, the definition of a child is anyone under the age of 18. Child neglect and abuse are both crimes under Pennsylvania law and are punishable by prison time in certain situations.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) establishes federal guidelines that states, including Pennsylvania, must include in their own child welfare laws. CAPTA's definition of abuse and neglect of children includes any acts or omissions on the part of the child's guardian that could potentially result in death, major harm or sexual abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is prohibited under Pennsylvania state law. Emotional abuse is considered a form of injuring or scarring of a child's mind, in some cases, permanently.

Sexual Abuse

In Pennsylvania, the definition of sexual abuse includes using mind games, including deceit or blackmail, to coerce a child to engage in, or to help someone else engage in, any type of sexual act or display. Abuse also includes rape, molestation or other sexual exploitation of a child.


Neglect is defined in Pennsylvania as the failure of a parental figure or guardian to provide basic living needs, such as water, food, proper clothing, a safe home and other necessities. In addition, a parent or guardian's failure to place the child in a proper schooling or educational environment as well as medically neglecting a child are also part of these provisions.


About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.

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