From MassKids <[email protected]>
Subject Report urges Biden to address child sexual abuse crisis
Date June 2, 2021 1:31 PM
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Child Advocates Urge President Biden to Address Child Sexual Abuse Crisis

Recommend lawmakers in every state introduce laws to strengthen child

BOSTON- A new report, “A Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates:
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States,” urges President
Biden to appoint a Policy Czar and federal Interagency Task Force to work
with private sector abuse prevention experts in addressing what law
enforcement and public health experts are calling a pandemic within a
pandemic. The 116-page report, researched by the Enough Abuse Campaign,
documents the alarming increase in both in-home and online sexual abuse of
minors and calls for urgent action to address it.

According to Jetta Bernier, Campaign Director and the report’s author,
“Children from every community and from all economic, racial and cultural
groups are included in the estimated one in ten children who are victims of
child sexual abuse. And the pandemic has placed children at significantly
greater risk, as confirmed by the unprecedented numbers of calls to rape
crisis hotlines by minors over the past year. Consider the sad fact that
over two-thirds of online child sexual abuse images appear to have been
taken in a home setting.”

To address the crisis, the report calls for the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services to immediately fund training and technical assistance
Resource Centers in each of the ten federal regions to assist all 50 states
in implementing evidence-based programs and a set of prevention policies
and practices.

The report’s recommendations, endorsed by collaborating partner Prevent
Child Abuse America, the nation’s largest child abuse prevention
organization, call upon lawmakers in every state to introduce legislation
mandating all school employees and students to receive training on how to
prevent, early identify and report child sexual abuse. According to Prevent
Child Abuse America CEO Melissa Merrick, “While 32 states and D.C. have
passed such laws, only 14 require training for all school employees and all
students. Given U.S. Department of Education data that indicates 4.5
million school children experience some type of sexual misconduct or abuse
by an adult in their schools, we must support schools to make this critical
prevention education available.”

Adoption of a model Code of Conduct for all schools is also urged that
details the inappropriate and boundary-violating interactions by adults
with children, that if left unchecked, could lead to illegal and reportable
sexual offenses. Stronger policies are proposed to screen applicants for
school jobs to identify past sexual misconduct, prohibit confidentiality
agreements aimed at suppressing information about an employee’s past
misconduct and the practice referred to by the U.S. Department of Education
as “passing the trash,” i.e., aiding an employee engaged in sexual
misconduct or abuse to get a job in another school.

The report urges national and community foundations to step up funding to
support the scaling up of evidence-based child sexual abuse prevention
education programs in schools and youth organizations, the development of
new promising strategies and research to expand the knowledge base for
prevention. According to Bernier, “There is a significant under-resourcing
of prevention programs as most foundations focus their support on programs
that address the aftermath of child abuse rather than on those aimed at
preventing it in the first place. We urge funders to join the movement to
prevent child sexual abuse and not be bystanders to the crisis.”

The National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation has
also endorsed the report. Its membership of over 35 child sexual abuse
prevention experts and organizations lead the movement to prevent child
sexual abuse and exploitation in the U.S.

About Enough Abuse:

The Enough Abuse Campaign is a multi-state, citizen education and community
mobilization initiative initially developed under a 5-year grant from the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003-2008). It is a
program of MassKids, a private, statewide child advocacy organization with
a 60-year history of effective advocacy on behalf of the state’s most
vulnerable children. MassKids is the site of Prevent Child Abuse
Massachusetts, the state Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.

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