CITY OF WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2021)—the House on Tuesday passed a bold child abuse prevention bill, setting up deliberations in the Senate as experts and advocates raise alarm about unreported abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which cleared the House by 345-73, represents a legislative overhaul of the flagship bill addressing child welfare in the US. The new legislation would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to establish national standards for tracking and reporting child fatalities along with near-fatalities as a result of maltreatment.
The bill would also set up an electronic infrastructure for states to share information from their respective child abuse and neglect registries.
The proposed national tracking standards and information-sharing infrastructure reflect the repeated calls of advocates to scale up child welfare coordination among states to produce clearer national data.
Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, who introduced the legislation in January, touted the bill in a statement Tuesday evening as “the bipartisan solution we need to not only better treat child abuse and neglect but prevent maltreatment from happening in the first place.”
“Our bipartisan effort to pass this bill again this year demonstrates that — no matter our party affiliations — we can all agree that Congress must do more to support children and families,” he said.
And a December analysis from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that visits to the emergency room for cases of child abuse and neglect of children under 18 years of age dropped by 53% in mid-March 2020 compared with the same time frame in 2019.
Source: AP News contributed to the article.