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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Children's Caucus and a proud co-sponsor of the legislation, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2083, the ``Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act.''
I support this legislation because it is a focused and targeted measure which ensures student safety in public schools against violent adults by implementing full background checks.
A deficiency in background checks for screening prospective employees poses a threat to the safety of children in schools.
Inconsistent state laws and regulations that do not require comprehensive background checks for all adults who have contact with children in schools has led to some districts unknowingly hiring offenders.
This is unacceptable. As a nation, we owe it to our kids and to ourselves to prevent our children from being exposed to an unsafe learning environment.
This legislation directly affects the communities I represent as 21% of all paroled sex offenders in Texas reside in Harris County. Failure to screen those we permit to interact with our children in schools allows violent or sexual predators the opportunity to abuse our children.
We have a responsibility to protect children and ensure them a safe, healthy learning environment.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2083 seeks to reduce the inconsistencies in state laws and regulations by requiring comprehensive background checks for all adults who have contact with children in schools.
The bill makes clear that best practices for reducing the prevalence of sexual and violent predators must include prohibiting public schools from hiring or retaining anyone who has been convicted of certain violent crimes.
Additionally, the bill requires periodic updating of background checks for all current employees, and ensuring that schools report to local law enforcement when offenders apply for a position.
Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been victims of sexual assault. Risks posed by predators on on campus put children at risk and are barriers to their academic and social growth and development.
Students have a right to feel safe, and parents have a right to expect that the individuals they entrust their children with will protect them from physical harm.
Mr. Speaker, my constituents in the 18th Congressional District of Texas, which I am proud to represent, understand the value and importance of a safe environment for students to learn and grow.
So do I. That is why I strongly support H.R. 2083. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this important legislation.
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