A new website is on line to provide statewide resources for reporting and preventing child abuse. It’s a joint effort of Penn State’s College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and School of Law.
“Look Out for Child Abuse” is designed to be a one stop resource for completing a CY-47 form, Pennsylvania’s official form for reporting suspected abuse. A video on the site walks a person through the process step-by-step, helping users compose a detailed easy-to-read report. The forms will still have to be printed and sent to the appropriate county children and youth agency. However, a pilot program will be tested with Cumberland County Children and Youth Service for a form that could be submitted electronically.
The website also includes legal information, resources for victims and educational tools. Dr. Benjamin Levi, professor of pediatrics and humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine, says one of the things they’ve tried to do, is to make the website very accessible to lots of people for lots of different reasons. He says the opening page includes a site map that will allow people to navigate easily and quickly.
Dr. Levi says the goal is to make the reporting information widely available. He says Pennsylvania is one of the lowest reporting states in the country for child abuse. He says the rate is less than half of the national average and presumably that’s not because there are fewer children being abused in Pennsylvania, it’s because people don’t report as often.
Dr. Harold Paz, CEO of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, says we recognize the problem of child abuse is not simply a medical problem, or a legal problem. He says it’s an issue that affects children across the Commonwealth and we need to make creative and collaborative approaches if we’re going to be able to stop abuse.
Former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge is a member of Vision of Hope’s Advisory Council for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. She says child sexual abuse is a serious problem. She says protecting children from sexual abuse is a shared responsibility. Mrs. Ridge says these critical new tools through “Look Out for Child Abuse” will help them achieve their goal.
Ridge says all of us must work together by joining the fight to help protect the hopes and dreams of our children.
* Photo courtesy of “Look Out for Child Abuse” website.