Leading policymakers, researchers, scholars, jurists, and child advocates from across the country have issued a public statement calling for the development of robust plans of action at federal, state and local levels to address all violence against children. The joint statement cites epidemic levels of violence against children in the U.S., which has the worst record of fatalities due to child abuse among industrialized nations.
According to a recent BBC report, "over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The child maltreatment death rate in the U.S. is triple Canada's and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year." The dire reality of child abuse was made visible last week when a disturbing video was released showing a 16-year-old girl's violent beating at the hands of her father, a Texas family court judge.
The joint statement is the outcome of a national consultation convened last Friday by the Children's Studies Center for Research, Policy and Public Service at Brooklyn College. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the United Nations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the State Legislature, among others, as well as neuroscientists, psychologists, and sociologists. The statement received overwhelming support from the presenters, members of the audience and representatives of key local and national organizations.
The statement calls for the creation of a national commission on children--the first since 1987--to address the challenges facing our nation's children; the development of federal, state and local policies, legislation and regulations to prohibit all forms of violence against children in all settings; and the consolidation of national data systems and research on violence against children in order to inform advocacy, policy making and resource mobilization to safeguard children's right to freedom from violence. The list of signatories will be released later this month.