Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, each year more than 6 million children in the United States are reported as victims of child abuse and neglect. Tragically, at least 1,700 of those children lose their lives--most under the age of four. Maltreatment deaths are preventable and it is our duty to fight for those who are too young to defend and speak for themselves.
Currently, the United States does not have a comprehensive strategy for addressing child abuse fatalities. We also lack a national standard for reporting these fatalities, leaving many of these deaths to be largely underreported. That is why today I am introducing the Protect Our Kids Act, which will establish the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.
This commission will be comprised of a variety of professionals with diverse experience and perspectives. They will develop a national strategy for reducing child abuse and neglect fatalities, and provide comprehensive recommendations for all levels of government. They will analyze the effectiveness of existing programs designed to prevent or identify maltreatment deaths and learn more about what works and what doesn't. Child abuse fatalities are not isolated to one part of our country or another.
Once the commission completes their, work they will submit a report with their findings to Congress and the report will be publicly available. The loss of just one child to abuse is one child too many. I would like to thank my colleague, Senator COLLINS, for working with me on this bipartisan bill to protect our Nation's children. A number of organizations have been integral to the development of the legislation and have endorsed it, including the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths whose members include the National Association of Social Workers, NASW, the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, NCRPCD, National Children's Alliance, NCA, Every Child Matters Education Fund, ECMEF, and the National District Attorney's Association, NDAA.
I look forward to our continued progress in developing a more effective approach to improving child welfare and ask all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
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