According to the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, the number of Protection From Abuse (PFA) filings in Pennsylvania has increased from 2014 through 2017, with 39,083 PFAs filed in 2017, of which 90 percent were granted. The Dads’ Resource Center has introduced an educational video series that discusses Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders through interviews with a sheriff, district judge, attorney and community counselor.
“PFAs are civil orders that are strictly enforced, with violations often resulting in Indirect Criminal Contempt charges that may result in incarceration for up to six months,” states Jeff Steiner, executive director of Dads’ Resource Center.
“At the heart of Dads’ Resource Center, we are a children’s advocacy organization that aims to ensure that each child has the appropriate involvement and contributions from both of their parents. Often in family separation and division, PFAs are important interventions that keep people safe. It is in everyone’s best interest if we can provide more support for those who are under the order of a PFA and help them make good choices to ensure the safety of everyone who is involved.”
“Our video series is an effort to educate any person or agency touched by PFAs, and through that education promote understanding and compliance with these orders,” Steiner concludes.
The four informational videos, set in interview style, discuss the following:
- Centre County Sheriff Bryan Sampsel talks about what to expect if you are served with a Protection From Abuse Order.
- Magisterial District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker discusses the process of being served with a Protection From Abuse order and how to prepare for, and what to expect at, an initial hearing before a judge.
- Attorney Stephanie Cooper gives the perspective of PFAs from an attorney who practices criminal law and legal resources available to successfully follow a PFA.
- Brian Coval from Crossroad Counseling, Inc. talks about the benefits of counseling and outlines community resources available to those affected by PFA orders.
While the videos mainly address the viewpoint of those individuals being served a PFA order, the series offers valuable information for any Pennsylvania resident seeking, or considering, protection orders.
“PFA orders affect both parties and at the Centre County Sheriff’s Department, we are concerned with both,” says Sheriff Sampsel. “We need those being served to take the PFA very seriously and to follow it to the letter, because the courts show no leniency for order violation. We hope the videos will help them stay out of trouble, because once the PFA is violated, it often starts a snowball effect from there.”
“We also want those being protected by the PFA to remain safe at all times,” Sampsel continued. “We all need to do what we can to reduce domestic violence incidents.”
The Video Production Class at Bellefonte Area School District, directed by Mrs. Cipro, helped with the PFA series by shooting and producing the videos.