#Children's Rights
United States Congress
United States of America

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children were involved in an estimated 3.2 million child abuse reports and allegations.

•A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
•Almost five children die everyday as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.
•It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
•90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
•Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
•31% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
•Over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
•About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
•About 80% of 21 year old that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
•The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.
•Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
•Abused teens are 3 times less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.

We, the undersigned, call on the US to enforce harsher child abuse laws. The current judicial system does not adequately reflect the serious nature of these crimes.

The death of a child through abuse or neglect is often punished with a prison sentence ranging from only 1-14 years, most of which are automatically halved with parole. This needs to change now.


1. Increase the maximum sentence of 14 years for ‘allowing or causing death of a child’ to a discretionary life sentence.

2. Review sentencing guidelines for ALL crimes relating to child abuse, increasing both minimum and maximum tariffs.

3. Introduce a law concerning fatal abuse without fatal injury where death as a result of complications from failure to seek medical attention; illness in a child whose immune system is impaired by the stress of chronic abuse or neglect; or abuse or neglect of a child already impaired by chronic illness, is labeled murder.

4. Ensure that sentences for child abuse run consecutively.

5. Abolish parole for all crimes against children.

6. Life sentences should mean LIFE.

7. Close the legal loophole which allows abusers to escape jail when the child survives, by blaming each other for the abuse.

. Social Workers should carry out a task list at every visit which should be adopted nationwide and include:

- check the cleanliness/hygiene of all living quarters
- check for evidence of undisclosed people living at the property & Criminal Record Bureau Check all residents & regular visitors
- check there is sufficient food and other essential supplies
- physically interact with the child
- physically examine the child
- insist children in diapers be changed to reveal any cases of serious diaper rash
- insist any food, ointment, paint etc be removed from the child
- ensure they see the child unrestrained & moving, crawling or walking to assess any difficulty with movement & possible injury
- see children old enough to speak on their own in the presence of another professional, so that the child can talk uninhibited away from its carers
- check for signs of drug use or alcohol abuse as these are often linked to cases of child abuse & neglect
- observe family's interaction with pets as abusive behaviour may be indicative of domestic violence
- check for any other dangers

If a social worker strongly suspects physical abuse, they should have the power to remove the child immediately while the matter is investigated, with or without police aid.

Social workers must be aware of 'red flags' that could be cause for concern and should check on the child without delay every time one is raised as the child may have already sustained injury or be in poor physical condition. These should include:

- carers failing to attend any appointments
- being denied access to a child or its living quarters
- carers regularly appear not to be at home or who say a child is unavailable (confirm child's whereabouts immediately)
- carers saying that they can't see anyone for a period of time

We, the undersigned, call on the US to enforce harsher child abuse laws.

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The Better Child Protection petition to United States Congress was written by Amanda West and is in the category Children's Rights at GoPetition.