Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), today introduced bi-partisan legislation to develop a comprehensive national strategy for reducing child fatalities that are the result of abuse and neglect.
The Protect Our Kids Act will create the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, which will explore all angles of this problem in an effort to end the growing number of deaths among victims of child abuse. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) is introducing companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"As a prosecutor in Massachusetts, I saw with my own eyes the horrific results of crimes against children. As a father and a Senator, it makes me sick to think of a child being hurt and the reality that abuse sometimes ends in death," said Senator Kerry. "More than six million kids are abused or neglected in America every single year, and almost two thousand of them are killed. The word tragedy doesn't capture this reality, and we can't sit on the sidelines and allow the status quo to continue. Our bill will elevate this issue and give child abuse the laser-like focus it requires. I'm confident we will secure the support needed from both parties to get it passed and signed into law."
"This legislation is an important step that Congress and our nation need to take in order to better protect our children from abuse and neglect," said Senator Collins. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue--this is an American issue--one that we can't wish away, but that we must face head on and work to eradicate. Our legislation would establish a commission to develop a comprehensive national strategy for reducing child abuse fatalities. An increased understanding and awareness of child abuse and neglect can lead to improvement in agency systems and practices and help prevent future child abuse fatalities."
The legislation has been endorsed by: the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, Massachusetts Citizens for Children, National Child Abuse Coalition, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), National Children's Alliance, National Association of Social Workers, National District Attorney's Association, Every Child Matters Education Fund, National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, American Professional Society for the Abuse of Children, National Child Protection Training Center , Children's Advocacy Institute, First Star, The Center for Public Policy Priorities and Prevent Child Abuse America.
The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities will:
be made up of 12 to 15 members, including a chair, to be appointed by the President and will come from a variety of backgrounds that will work together to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the issue of child abuse;
make a complete and full study and investigation of the national incidence of child abuse and neglect fatalities;
hold hearings examining the federal, state, and local policies and resources that affect child abuse fatalities;
work for up to three years and may be granted extended authority by the President for work up to one additional year. At the end of the 36 months, the commission will submit a report with their findings to relevant federal agencies and Congressional committees. The report will be made available for states and the general public to view.