Senator Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002, was a champion for the downtrodden and those suffering from mental illness. He worked hard to represent the “least of us” and for that I am very grateful. I want to provide you with information about a bill he introduced in Congress in 2001 – about 13 years ago. And yes, you guessed it. It was not introduced into law. It was called the “Children Who Witness Domestic Violence Act.”
This is what he said.
“The bill would support multi-system interventions for children who witness domestic violence by providing nonprofit agencies with funding to bring various service providers together to design and implement intervention programs for children who witness domestic violence. These working partnerships would take advantage of local resources such as counselors, courts, schools, healthcare providers and battered women’s programs to best address the needs of children in violent homes.”
“Nowhere is violence more isolated from view, more difficult to combat, and more far reaching in its impact than violence in the home. To turn a blind eye to the suffering of the victims of domestic violence and their children is to be, unwittingly, complicitous in the crime because it is out of sight and behind closed doors that domestic violence thrives.”
“It is estimated that as many as 10 million children witness violence in the home each year, and much of this violence is repetitive. As many as 70% of children who witness domestic violence are also victims of child abuse. If we are serious about helping children and reducing youth violence, we cannot ignore the impact of domestic violence on children.”
“One of the most chilling statistics is that 63% of all Americans between the ages of 11 and 20 who are incarcerated are in prison for killing their mother’s batterer.”
Has anyone ever heard mention of the need to address this issue by President Obama, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, or any member of Congress? I know I have not. Has President Obama mentioned or talked about child abuse in any of his State of the Union Addresses?
I encourage all survivors and those who care for them to contact Congressional members and the White House to demand that the crimes of child abuse and the needs of adult survivors be put on the national agenda. That is the very least they can do.