Study finds spike in Pennsylvania child abuse-related deaths

A new study says the number of Pennsylvania children killed or nearly killed after abuse had occurred spiked recently, increases likely driven by a new definition of abuse and an uptick in its reporting in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse scandals.

The state Human Services Department issued a report Thursday into fatalities and near fatalities during 2015 and 2016.

It shows both types of reports were up sharply after being fairly level for the preceding six years.

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The number of substantiated fatalities and near fatalities ranged between 80 and 92 from 2009 through 2014. In, 2016 that number was 127.

The study attributes the rise in part to revisions to the state Child Protective Service Law that took effect at the end of 2014.