Pennsylvania advocates aren’t rushing in to toughen laws on reporting child sex abuse as 10 other states have done, according to this detailed overview by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jeremy Roebuck. A task force that was created in January wants to examine the issue carefully so that legislation won’t
“overwhelm cash-strapped social services agencies, or worse, cast undue suspicion on families and individuals tenuously accused of abuse”.
Comprising legislators, lawyers, judges, and victim advocates, the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection has met seven times and heard testimony from dozens of witnesses on the advantages and pitfalls of proposed measures. Those include extending civil and criminal statutes of limitations; appointing an ombudsman to handle abuse appeals; and requiring all adults, under threat of criminal penalties, to report suspected abuse.
The group is expected to issue by November a slate of recommendations to overhaul the state’s systems for reporting and investigating child abuse.
“Our findings suggest that efforts to prevent child abuse have implications for current and future health,” they wrote. “Moreover, for survivors of abuse, behavioral patterns associated with cardiovascular risk may emerge in childhood and require tailored interventions that address trauma history in addition to modification of health behaviors.”
The Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS) recruited 59,000 women in 1995 to determine why black women have higher rates of chronic disease such as high blood pressure, breast cancer at young ages, diabetes, stroke, and lupus. According to its web site, the BWHS is run by epidemiologists Lynn Rosenberg and Julie Palmer, both at Boston University School of Medicine, and Lucile Adams-Campbell, a cancer and heart disease scientist at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.