Protect Our Kids Act A Good Start

Written by LIFT Alliance

Last week the Dept. of Family & Protective Services released the 2012 Data Book, its annual tally of the epidemic of child abuse in our state. It’s always a sad moment to flip through the charts and graphs, as they categorize victims and perpetrators by race, by relationship, by location – because the numbers are so staggering. Last year there were 64,366 “confirmed victims” of child abuse in Texas, and 16,972 children were removed from their homes as a result of abuse. Saddest of all, 226 children died in Texas last year before they could be rescued from their abusers.

But last week also delivered a bit of good news:  HR 6655, known as the Protect Our Kids Act, was signed into law. This law, sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), will establish a two-year national commission to study data and develop recommendations for how to reduce the epidemic of child fatalities. The commission will contain 12 appointed members who are charged with studying current prevention methods and the adequacy of existing programs and data collection methods. They will then make recommendations on next steps to implement a national strategy for reducing child maltreatment deaths.

Make no mistake, creation of the new national commission won’t ensure success, or even that services to kids aren’t cut in the budget battles to come. But for the first time in decades, a Congressionally-sponsored panel will be collecting information and making recommendations on child abuse issues, and that can be the first step toward real change.

A generation ago, we smoked, drank alcohol, ate fatty foods and let our kids ride in the front seat with nothing but a lap belt. Through public awareness and education, combined with a coordinated community response, we were able to change these habits and reduce the deaths and injuries they caused. It’s long past time to bring that same focus and awareness to the essential goal of preventing the murder of innocent children, and I’m pleased that this new legislation provides us with a place to start.