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, more than 1,500 of those children lose their lives most under the age of four. Many of these deaths are preventable and we must fight for those who are too young to defend and speak for themselves.
The United States currently does not have a comprehensive strategy to address child abuse fatalities, or a national standard for classification and reporting of those deaths. This leaves many child abuse fatalities to be underreported, which becomes an additional hindrance in addressing the root causes.
I am pleased to work with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, Senator Collins, and a number of advocacy and child welfare experts to introduce the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012. This legislation will establish the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.
The commission will be comprised of a variety of professionals with diverse experience and perspectives. They will be charged with developing a national strategy for reducing child abuse and neglect fatalities, and provide comprehensive recommendations for all levels of government. It 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 a national crisis that requires a collective solution. Once the commission completes their work any relevant agency will report to Congress regarding their response to the commission recommendations.
The loss of just one child to abuse is one child too many. I appreciate the work of a number of organizations that 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. I thank Chairman Baucus and Senator Collins for their leadership on this important issue and I ask all of my colleagues to support this important bipartisan legislation.