HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) has introduced two bills aimed at supporting the well-being of Pennsylvania children. One bill is designed to ensure the quality of their education while the other would better support children who are victimized.
“One of the most important responsibilities of our government – and our society – is ensuring the health, safety and quality of life for our children,” Owlett said. “These bills are designed to help us meet those responsibilities.
House Bill 2358 would help ensure cyber charter students are participating in school and not falling behind in their learning by requiring cyber charter schools to regularly report the attendance of each student to their school district of residence.
“Right now, different cyber charters measure attendance in different ways, making any data we have about it inconsistent and unreliable,” Owlett said. “We offer a variety of educational options in the Commonwealth to best meet the varying needs of our students, but we have to make sure our kids are actively attending and participating in their lessons.”
Owlett’s second bill, House Bill 2342
, would amend the state’s Tender Years Hearsay Act, which permits the introduction of hearsay statements concerning violent or sexual offenses. Currently, a victim must be age 12 or younger to allow hearsay statements in the case. Owlett’s bill would increase the maximum age to 16.
“While our ultimate goal is always to prevent our children from being victimized, it is important we also have the tools in place to ensure justice is served when crimes are committed against them,” Owlett said. “The Tender Years exception has proven a valuable tool in the effort to seek justice for some of the most heinous crimes committed against our children, and I believe we need to make it available in cases involving older children.”
A fear of testifying is one of the primary reasons many sexual assaults go unreported. Child victims in sexual assault cases who do testify are routinely subjected to long periods of cross examination and are often forced to repeatedly describe the explicit details underlying any assault in front of a jury, the media and the offender. By extending the age from 12 to 16 in the Tender Years Hearsay Act, this legislation will provide additional protections to child victims and will ensure that offenders are brought to justice.
Each bill will be referred to a legislative committee for review.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler