WASHINGTON—Today, July 20, 2023, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, alongside Congresswoman Maria Salazar (R-FL) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced a major new bill to update and strengthen existing U.S. Government efforts to end global violence against children, improve interagency coordination in addressing violence, and promote the use of evidence-based strategies and information gathering capabilities.
Globally, half of all children experience violence. Violence includes abuse, neglect, and exploitation and can be physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional in nature. Violence can happen anywhere—in communities, schools, homes, workplaces, and in humanitarian settings. Sexual exploitation and abuse take many forms and include human trafficking, early and forced child marriage, homicide, online exploitation, and gender-based violence.
“America has played a leading role in developing strategies to reduce and end child violence, and our new bipartisan bill builds on that legacy to help put an end to violence against children once and for all,” said Rep. McGovern. “Nearly a billion children around the world are victims of violence each year. Every seven minutes, a child dies as a result of violence. These aren’t just statistics; they are kids who deserved so much better. As a dad, I know how much we worry about our children’s safety and well-being. Every child should be treated with care and protection. Our bill makes clear that not only does America care about ending violence against children, but that we are taking action to address this issue globally.”
“We must do more to protect vulnerable children from being exploited by evil individuals across the world,” said Rep. Salazar. “I am proud to co-lead the Strengthening Efforts to End Violence Against Children (SEEVAC) Act to help innocent children who are at risk of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, forced child marriages, online abuse, and gender-based violence.”
“It is our duty to protect children from exploitation and violence,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am grateful to partner with my colleagues on the bipartisan Strengthening Efforts to End Violence Against Children (SEEVAC) Act to ensure that appropriate resources are directed to protect vulnerable children at risk of violence around the world.”
Specifically, the Strengthening Efforts To End Violence Against Children Act (HR4798) will:
- Align current interventions for vulnerable children with USAID’s Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity (APCCA) Strategy and evidence-based interventions such as the INSPIRE strategies and Violence Against Children Surveys.
- Elevate the USAID Special Advisor for Assistance to Orphans and Vulnerable Children and require the Special Advisor to advise USAID offices, bureaus, and field missions and other U.S. government agencies to address violence against children through the current whole-of-government strategy.
- Update USAID reporting requirements to identify how U.S. agencies are utilizing the INSPIRE strategies and findings from Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys, including in response to the effects of COVID-19.
The bill is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Fund International, Futures Without Violence, Together For Girls, UNICEF, and World Vision.
“ChildFund is proud to support the SEEVAC Act,” said Isam Ghanim, ChildFund’s President & CEO. “All children, including those that are the most vulnerable, have the right to grow up in healthy, safe environments free from violence. This bill is an important step towards making the world a safer place for all children.”
”At World Vision we believe our Christian faith calls us to improve and protect the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children and their families,” said WorldVision President and CEO, Edgar Sandoval. “The Strengthening Efforts to End Violence Against Children Act will do just that by utilizing proven strategies toaddress violence against children and prioritize the protection of children in humanitarian settings and conflict areas. With roughly half of the world’s childrenexperiencing violence in some form, I urge Congress to act quickly to pass this critical and timely legislation.”
“In order to create a world where every child and adolescent is safe, protected and thriving, we must first know the facts,” said Daniela Ligiero, Executive Director of Together for Girls, co-founder of the Brave Movement, and a survivor of childhood sexual violence. “Codifying critical tools and holistic strategies to end violence against children will ensure the use of evidence-based solutions that protect the right of all children and adolescents to live in safety and dignity. Findings from the VACS have been a powerful catalyst for change and contributed to policies and interventions that reduce violence rates and ensure survivors can access the healing they need and justice they deserve. We have the tools to act. The time to act is now."
“Children everywhere deserve to be safe and protected from violence, and yet that is not the reality for far too many children around the world. When young people are exposed to violence, it can have a long-lasting impact on their overall health and development. The Strengthening Efforts to End Violence Against Children Act would help ensure that the United States prioritizes efforts to address violence against children everywhere. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls on Congress to swiftly advance this legislation, and thanks Representatives James McGovern (D-Mass.), Maria Salazar (R-Fla.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) for their leadership in supporting global child health,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandy Chung, MD, FAAP.
“We must do all that we can to prevent violence against children and help those children and families harmed by violence heal and thrive,” said Esta Soler, President and Founder of Futures Without Violence. “The Strengthening Efforts to End Violence Against Children Act is a critical and badly needed tool in our efforts to help stop physical and sexual abuse of children globally. I ask Congress to pass it as quickly as possible.”