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Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today to praise the passage of the ``Protect Our Kids Act,'' which will create a commission with the goal of eliminating child abuse fatalities. The effort to address child abuse transcends ideological and partisan lines. 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. Senator Kerry and I originally introduced the Protect Our Kids Act last year, and I am pleased that we have moved forward with this critical, updated legislation. Senator Kerry and I also introduced a resolution recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The passage of the Protect Our Kids Act further represents our commitment to put an end to child abuse in the United States.
Child abuse fatalities are preventable; yet, approximately 1,770 children are reported as dying from child abuse each year, and many experts believe the actual number may be significantly higher. This legislation would establish a commission to develop a national strategy for reducing child abuse fatalities. The commission will include a variety of professionals with expertise in areas such as child welfare advocacy, child development, pediatrics, medical examining, social work, law enforcement and education.
Through new research, hearings and the use and coordination of existing information, the commission will provide a report with its recommendations for developing a comprehensive national strategy for reducing child abuse fatalities. Increased understanding of maltreatment deaths can lead to improvement in agency systems and practices to protect children and prevent child abuse and neglect. Therefore, it is imperative that we take action to capitalize on the commission's findings. This legislation requires the commission's report to be submitted to relevant Federal agencies and Congressional committees. All agencies with recommendations that fall under their jurisdiction must then submit their reaction and plans to address such recommendations to Congress within 6 months.
Approximately 6 million kids are reported to be abused or neglected each year. We know this can be prevented. This legislation is an important step that Congress and our Nation should take in order to better protect our kids.
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