Petrarca reminds residents to report suspected child abuse, keep kids safe at home

VANDERGRIFT, Aug. 24 – With back-to-school season in full swing, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca wants to remind Pennsylvanians to take proactive steps to ensure children are safe at home and report any suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, who serves as the Democratic chairman of the state House Children and Youth Committee, said while many children may be heading back to school, many of them will likely be doing so remotely at home, but it’s still important to make sure they’re safe.

“While there may still be fewer people interacting with children on a regular basis compared to before the pandemic, it’s vital for parents and caregivers to take responsibility for their child’s well-being and ensure their homes are safe,” Petrarca said. “That means making sure that guns and medications are safely stored out of their reach and addressing any potential fall or heights hazards around the home. When we encounter children in our daily routines, we also need to be aware of signs of potential abuse or neglect, because our children are counting on us.”

Petrarca said signs of possible abuse or neglect can include, but are not limited to:

  • Numerous and/or unexplained bruises or injuries.
  • Chronic or pronounced anxiety and expressed feelings of inadequacy.
  • Flinching, or an avoidance of being touched.
  • Poor impulse control.
  • Cruelty to animals or others.
  • Demonstrating abuse behavior or talk.
  • Fear of parent or caregiver.

“If you see any signs or behaviors in a child that indicate possible neglect or abuse, you can contact ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. These calls are constantly monitored, and information regarding suspected cases are quickly reported to county agencies for investigation. A report made to ChildLine allows trained child welfare workers and law enforcement personnel to properly investigate,” Petrarca said.

Adults, including caregivers and parents, are urged to contact the Statewide Support and Referral Helpline toll free at 1-855-284-2494 or to text the state’s Crisis Text Line by texting “PA” to 741-741 if they are having trouble coping.