Casey: All Adults, All Levels of Government Have Moral Duty to Protect Children

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families today held a hearing requested by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) on child abuse focusing on protection, prevention, intervention and deterrence. Senator Casey released the following statement:

“Child abuse and neglect is the ultimate betrayal, and addressing it is a shared responsibility among everyone at every level of government.  As adults, I believe we have a moral duty to protect children from harm in whatever way possible.

“While the federal government, through the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), sets a minimum standard for state definitions, there is still a lot of leeway for states to determine what constitutes child abuse and neglect. This is one area where further scrutiny is needed to determine how to best ensure states are upholding a high standard of reporting.

“Although this hearing was originally called in response to a recent high profile and horrific child sexual abuse case and the lack of reporting of child abuse, we also know that this is part of a larger problem of child abuse and neglect in the United States. 5.9 million children are referred to child protective services every year, a child is abused every 36 seconds, and 4 or more die every day. These are tragic numbers.

“This hearing is about making sure children are protected. I believe my legislation, the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid (Speak Up) Act of 2011, is a good start, but we need to take a broader look at federal legislation on this issue to ensure that we are doing everything possible to protect children.

“This won’t be easy. But we should not allow bureaucratic challenges to prevent us from holding adults accountable for protecting children.”