Governor Wolf Signs Law to Increase Penalties for Endangering Children

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 217, renewing the commonwealth’s commitment to the safety of its children and increasing penalties for those who carelessly and flagrantly endanger them.

Act 12, House Bill 217, introduced by Representative Rob Kauffman and passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, will strengthen Pennsylvania’s child endangerment laws and further protect children from abuse and mistreatment.

“Our children are the most precious and vulnerable members of our society,” Governor Wolf said. “We need to protect them from harm and ensure that they can grow up in a safe environment so that they can develop into successful and happy adults. This bill will strengthen the child endangerment laws in Pennsylvania – and will help to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children have the chance to live and grow safely.”

The new law allows the courts to take into account the age of a child who is put in danger, as well as the degree of harm done in order to more accurately reflect the reality of the situation when deciding how to prosecute those who harm children.

Age and level-of-harm distinctions will work by increasing the penalty based on the degree of harm the child is placed in by the individual and increasing the penalty by one grade if the child is under six years old. The bill also requires the court to consider ordering an individual convicted of endangering a child to undergo counseling.