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Report: 34 Pennsylvania Children Died of Abuse or Neglect in 2011

Thirty-four Pennsylvania children died of abuse or neglect in 2011, one more than in the previous year. Seven of the children died in southwestern Pennsylvania.

That data comes from the state Department of Public Welfare, which issued its 2011 Annual Child Abuse Report last week.

The report showed a slight decline in overall reports of suspected child abuse, as well as a drop in the number of substantiated child abuse cases. The state received 24,378 reports of child abuse in 2011, of which 3,408 were substantiated.

Sexual abuse accounted for 53% of the substantiated cases.

DPW spokeswoman Anne Bale said there were 1,500 reports of suspected child abuse in Allegheny County last year, but a minority of those were verified.

"In Allegheny County, we were able to substantiate 95 cases of abuse, which I believe is down from last year," said Bale.

She said 78% of the suspected abuse reports came from "mandated reporters."

"Those are people who work with children; typically, they're teachers or hospital workers, and when they suspect signs of abuse, they are required by law to report abuse," said Bale. "Because of that, they often are the largest population to report abuse in Pennsylvania."

In the wake of child sexual abuse charges against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, Pennsylvania formed the Task Force on Child Protection in January. The task force is charged with a review of all Pennsylvania laws regarding child abuse reporting. Bale said she expects the panel to release its findings in about one year.