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Sweeping changes suggested for Pa. child abuse law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state lawmakers are planning to quickly make changes to the state's child abuse laws, now that a task force is out with its recommendations.

The task force, which was set up in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, is suggesting stronger penalties for failing to report child abuse. It wants more people to be among those who are required to report suspected abuse. And it's also recommending an expanded definition of what constitutes child abuse.

Under current state law, children have to show that they experienced severe pain in order to substantiate claims of abuse. The task force says the requirement should be eliminated.

It also says the definition of sexual abuse should be expanded to include sexually explicit conversations.

The leader of the Republican majority in the state Senate is expecting some legislation to go to the governor early next year.

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APPHOTO PABB104: Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, center, holds a news conference announcing the findings of a report from the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 at the capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Pennsylvania should enact "sweeping" changes to state child abuse laws, the legislative commission concluded Tuesday after a year of study prompted by Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child molestation charges. The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection's recommendations include rewriting state law, redefining what constitutes child abuse and expanding the list of people who are required to report suspected abuse.(AP Photo/Bradley C Bower) (27 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO PABB104 (11/27/12)>>

APPHOTO PABB101: Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, center, stands, as Commission members, from left, Rschel Berger, MD Delilah Rumberg, Beverly Mackereth, Cindy Christian, MD, Jackie Bernard, and Jason Kutalakis, are seated before a news conference announcing the findings of a report from the Pennsylvania Task Force, on Child Protection Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 at the capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Pennsylvania should enact "sweeping" changes to state child abuse laws, the legislative commission concluded Tuesday after a year of study prompted by Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child molestation charges. The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection's recommendations include rewriting state law, redefining what constitutes child abuse and expanding the list of people who are required to report suspected abuse. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower) (27 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO PABB101 (11/27/12)>>

APPHOTO NY108: FILE - In this June 22, 2012 file photo, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. A commission set up by the Pennsylvania Legislature after Jerry Sandusky's molestation arrest last year will issue a report that could recommend changes to state law. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) (22 Jun 2012)

<<APPHOTO NY108 (06/22/12)>>

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