East Hawaii News

House Passes Talia’s Law to Strengthen Military Abuse Response

February 9, 2016, 3:59 PM HST
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Talia’s Law, H.R. 3894, introduced in November 2015 by United States Representative Tulsi Gabbard, was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The legislation was named in memory of Talia Williams, who was beaten to death by her father who was stationed in Hawai’i.

For months leading up to the five-year-old’s death, reports of suspected abuse were made by federal employees in contact with her, including military police and workers at her on-base child care facility. Ultimately, the reports stayed within the Army’s chain of command and were not reported to state authorities.

Currently, the military’s Family Advocacy Programs identify individuals who are mandated to report known or suspected cases of child abuse to a report point of contact, who conducts an assessment investigation into the reported child abuse.

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Each of the service branches in every state require the report point of contact to communicate with State Child Protective Services. The law will help strengthen the military’s child abuse reporting requirement.

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Under Talia’s Law, the gap between mandated reports of child abuse and the military’s Family Advocacy Programs reporting on their behalf is minimized by requiring mandated reporters to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect directly to State Child Protective Services.

“More than 10 years after Talia’s tragic death, the same gaps in the military’s reporting requirements that failed to protect Talia remain unchanged.  Meanwhile, over the last decade, there have been 29,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in military homes,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “To close this gap and fix this problem, Talia’s Law requires the same protections that exist for any other child to also protect children in military families, by requiring immediate, direct reporting to State Child Protective Services in cases of suspected abuse and neglect. This legislation cannot right the wrongs that failed to protect Talia, but it takes an important step toward helping to better protect thousands of children in military families, and to get them and their families the care and services they deserve.”

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