Following Casey Request Senate HELP Committee Announces Hearing On Protecting Children From Abuse And Neglect

WASHINGTON DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) joined Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in announcing an upcoming Senate hearing to examine how well our nation is protecting children from child abuse and neglect. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families will hold a hearing on Tuesday, December 13 at 10:15 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this month, Senator Casey wrote to Senators Mikulski (D-MD) and Burr (R-NC), Chairwoman and Ranking Member on the committee, requesting the hearing.  

“This hearing will be an opportunity to ensure that our federal laws are protecting our children from dangerous sexual predators,” Senator Casey said. “The events of the last weeks are a clarion call for action to ensure that every adult is responsible for reporting the sexual abuse of a child to the proper government authorities. I thank Senators Mikulski and Burr for agreeing to hold this important hearing.”

The Senate hearing will focus on how well existing federal law is protecting children from abuse and suspected abuse.  In particular, the hearing will examine existing gaps in our system and examine proposals to improve reporting requirements.  The hearing follows troubling allegations of child sexual abuse at Pennsylvania State University and the failure to report these alleged crimes to law-enforcement authorities.  Currently, only 18 states require all adults to report suspected child abuse.

Chairwoman Mikulski today sent a letter to Senator Casey discussing her goals for the hearing. The text of her letter is below:

November 21, 2011

The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

393 Russell Senate Office Building

U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Casey:

Thank you for your letter requesting a hearing in the Subcommittee on Children and Families to examine how well our nation is protecting children from child abuse and neglect.  I have reached out to Ranking Member Burr and we both agree that a hearing on this subject is necessary and warranted. 

I know you share my strong commitment to protecting children and, like all of us, have been troubled and distraught about the child sexual abuse allegations coming out of Pennsylvania State University.  No child should ever be subjected to sexual abuse.  And no adult should ever turn a blind eye to such abuse.  If any of the allegations coming out of Penn State turn out to be true, the gravest of crimes will have been committed against the most vulnerable amongst us.

Unfortunately, I have seen these types of crimes first-hand.  I started my career as a social worker in Baltimore – helping at-risk and abused and neglected children.  While working with the Baltimore City Welfare Department and Catholic Charities, I saw how child abuse can destroy a family and ruin a child’s life. 

In an effort to keep our nation’s children safe from predators, I have spent years – as Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations subcommittee – working to ensure that Justice programs give federal, state and local law enforcement the tools they need to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes against children. 

Despite so many federal, state, and local efforts, sexual abuse is still a reality for too many children.  It is my hope that a hearing on this subject will help shed some light on the prevention, protection, intervention, and deterrence of child sexual abuse.  Senator Burr and I will be working in the coming days to put together a balanced and comprehensive hearing that examines these issues. 

Thank you again for your letter.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Mikulski

United States Senator

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