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House Passes McGovern Bill Condemning Violence Against Children

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Washington, March 3, 2020 | comments
Bill Urges Federal Agencies to implement a comprehensive strategy to prevent, address, and end violence against children
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WASHINGTON — Today, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 230, a bipartisan bill authored and introduced by Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee Chairman and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

McGovern’s resolution, which he introduced alongside South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, calls on the United States Government to develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy built on evidence-based practices, including the technical package called ‘‘INSPIRE: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence against Children’’ put forth by the World Health Organization.

“Even though we have made great strides in identifying and addressing much of the violence that affects children and young people around the world, the sad reality is that violence against children is still pandemic,” said Congressman McGovern. “The resolution we passed today announces to the world that America is aware of this crisis, that we care about this crisis – and most importantly, that we want our health and aid agencies to take action and to end violence against children.”

McGovern’s bill also calls on Federal agencies to adopt common metrics and indicators to monitor progress towards preventing, addressing, and ending violence against children and youth globally.

McGovern’s full remarks on the House Floor are below:

I want to thank the gentleman for yielding me time and for his leadership on programs that protect and address the needs of vulnerable children, here at home and around the world.

M. Speaker, I am very proud to be the author of this bipartisan resolution, along with Congressman Joe Wilson.  And I’m very proud of the 62 bipartisan cosponsors on this bill that represent the geographic and ideological diversity of this House. 

I also want to thank the broad coalition of organizations that have worked so long in support of this resolution, in particular, ChildFund, Save the Children, World Vision, Futures Without Violence, and UNICEF-USA.

I ask unanimous consent to enter into the Record a letter supporting this resolution from these groups and others.

M. Speaker, even though we have made great strides in identifying and addressing much of the violence that affects children and young people around the world, the sad reality is that violence against children is still pandemic.

Every five minutes, a child dies of violence.

Half of all children – one billion – are victims of violence.

Homicide is among the top five causes of death in adolescents.

That’s not a shame, M. Speaker, that’s absolutely unacceptable.

80 percent of those homicide victims are boys.

And nearly one in five girls is sexually abused at least once in her life.       

Sadly, violence can happen anywhere – in communities, in schools, in the home, in emergency and crisis situations, in churches, on the streets, online and on the phone.

It happens in the most idyllic-seeming neighborhood – and in the midst of conflict and war.

Violence takes many forms: human trafficking, child marriage, child labor, murder, assault, beatings, psychological abuse, and on-line exploitation.

And too much of violence is based on gender.

We know that children who are exposed to violence at a very young age can be affected for life.  Violence can impair brain development.  It can damage the circulatory and immune systems. 

Such violence can cause life-long risks of being vulnerable to disease, illness and disabilities. It can harm the ability to reproduce and engage in a full sexual life. And it can severely affect the ability of a child to live up to their full potential.

Luckily, nations, health care providers, teachers, communities and non-governmental groups have come together to end violence against children. 

They have identified and agreed upon some solutions to ending violence against children.

And we in this House should be proud that the CDC, USAID, the World Health Organization and others have developed what is called the INSPIRE package, which is a set of strategies to reduce and end violence against children everywhere. 

So many of us in this chamber are parents.  I’m the father of a son and a daughter.  I know how we worry about our children’s safety and well-being. 

This is true of all families everywhere.

In many ways, each and every child, is our child. 

We need to be concerned about their vulnerability, about their safety, about their care, and their protection.

This resolution announces to the world that we are aware; that we do care; and more importantly, that we want our health and aid agencies to take action.

I urge all my colleagues to support this resolution – and I yield back my time.

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