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Ms. BASS of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Protect Our Kids Act. First of all, I want to thank Ranking Member Doggett, Chairman Camp, and Chairman Paulsen for their leadership and commitment to eliminating child fatalities.
Unfortunately, Federal Government statistics estimate that every day in America approximately 2,000 children are confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect, nearly 700 children are removed from their families and placed in foster care due to child abuse and neglect, and about four children die as a result.
Additionally, in fiscal year 2010 alone, more than 1,500 children in the U.S. died due to maltreatment. Of these, more than 40 percent were under the age of 1 year old, and more than 80 percent were under the age of 4.
These statistics are absolutely unacceptable; and to make matters worse, research has shown that these reports substantially underestimate the number of children who die due to maltreatment.
As a Nation, we have a responsibility to develop effective strategies and solutions to proactively stop this abuse and neglect. When children are removed from their home, they really become our children, and it is our responsibility.
While Congress has enacted a variety of laws regarding child welfare and protection, there is no unified, comprehensive Federal strategy for reducing instances of child abuse and neglect. This bill will ensure that the highest levels of government work together to develop a national strategy to eliminate child abuse and neglect fatalities. By bringing together experts on child development, trauma and crisis intervention, pediatrics, social work, law enforcement, criminal law, and substance abuse treatment, the commission will truly protect our kids.
As the cochair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, I look forward to continue working with my colleagues to help prevent child abuse, neglect and fatalities. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6655.
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