Frequently Asked Questions

Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance is a statewide child abuse prevention organization. To find out more about PFSA, our mission and organizational structure, go to the PFSA FAQ page.

Yes. In 2013, over 26,900 reports of suspected child abuse were received by ChildLine, the state’s hotline for reporting suspected abuse. This was an increase of 280 reports from 2012. Over 3,400 of these reports were substantiated (found that abuse had occurred). Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties received reports of abuse and 33 counties received more reports of child abuse in 2013 than in 2012.

Approximately 10 out of every 1,000 children in Pennsylvania were reported as victims of child abuse, and approximately 1 out of every 1,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse.

Sadly, 38 children died as a result of child abuse in 2013. Each year, Pennsylvania loses the equivalent of one classroom of children because of abuse. You can find many more statistics about child abuse in Pennsylvania in the Department of Public Welfare Annual Report.

If you have a reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused, contact ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. You do not have to be sure that abuse is happening and you should not try to investigate what happened on your own. You may make the report anonymously.

Some groups of people are mandated to report child abuse, based on their contact with children in the course of employment or other factors. If you are not sure if you are a mandated reporter, click here to find out about your responsibilities and how PFSA can help you recognize and report child abuse.

Learn more about reporting child abuse here.

Many times, yes. Of the 3,425 substantiated reports of child abuse, as listed in the Department of Public Welfare's Annual Report (2013), 2,623 listed factors contributing to the cause of the abuse. The most frequently cited factors are given below. When parents receive support and education, the likelihood of these factors leading to abuse decreases. To find out more about PFSA’s local affiliates and their programs for parents click here.

  • Vulnerability of the child (79%) – Young children and children with special needs are especially vulnerable to abuse. When parents attend a Family Support Program the family is less isolated and early signs of abuse or neglect can be addressed. Parents can also find help for many kinds of problems when they connect with the Family Support Program. This makes their children less vulnerable to abuse.
  • Marginal parenting skills or knowledge (31%) – The Family Support Program assists parents in gaining better parenting skills as well as knowledge about the development of their children. When parents know more, they do better.
  • Impaired judgment of perpetrator (21%) – Many programs focus on special challenges such as mental illness or addiction and the impact of these challenges on parenting. Often parents are motivated to make changes in their own lives when they realize the effect they are having on children, and the Family Support Program can help them access services to address critical needs and then support them in their parenting. In addition, parents who attend groups get input and different perspectives from other parents in the group and learn from peers as well as professionals.
  • Stress (18%) – The parents who attend the program have the opportunity to discuss their stress with other parents and get feedback from them so they know they are not the only ones who are struggling.
  • Substance abuse (14%) – Parents are less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs while they are participating in a family support program. Parenting programs are a vital link to substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Insufficient social or family support (10%) – The Family Support Program becomes a vital support system for parents and parents develop informal supports and friendships with others in the group, easing isolation and increasing the likelihood that they will reach out for help when needed.
  • Abuse between parental figures (7%) – The group facilitator helps the family gain access to resources in the community to help combat the abuse. The support of the group is essential in helping them.
  • Perpetrator abused as a child (5%) – This issue may come up during group discussions and parents have the opportunity to talk with each other about how this could affect their parenting. The group can help parents to find alternative ways of parenting that are not abusive and that help the family heal from a legacy of abuse. Family Support Programs also provide referrals for counseling when needed.

(Source: 2013 Annual Report on Child Abuse, PA Department of Public Welfare)

We each have a role to play in preventing child abuse – everyone can do something to protect kids and support families. Here are just a few ideas; you can learn more by clicking here.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your paper, church newsletter or community website to discuss the problem and the importance of prevention.
  • Post positive parenting thoughts, local resources and other relevant information on social media sites. Connect with sites that support parents and offer suggestions for positive parenting.
  • Give your time, energy and money to programs that prevent abuse and strengthen families.
  • Know how to safely step in to offer help. You can learn strategies for helping in our Front Porch Project® 
  • Contact elected officials to remind them to support programs for families and remember their responses the next time you vote. PFSA advocates for legislation and initiatives that help prevent child abuse.
  • If you are a parent, remind other parents that it’s OK to ask for help and support.
  • Reach out to a child. A word of encouragement, a friendly smile and a compliment are really important to children (and parents)!
  • Offer to help an overwhelmed parent or caregiver or share resources to make the job easier.
  • Participate in Child Abuse Prevention Month events.
  • Sponsor enriching activities for kids and parents at low costs, and provide child care when needed.
  • Establish community coalitions to make family support a priority – include faith-based organizations, schools, sports teams and local government. Everyone can help!
  • Look for the positive in your community’s kids and “catch them being good.”
  • Get to know your neighbors. Sometimes a “good morning” can open the door to more communication and help neighbors look out for each other.
  • Sponsor a Front Porch Project® session in your community.

Ways You Can Connect