VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Talia’s Law to Mandate Reporting of Child Abuse on Military Bases
Legislation To Close the Gap in Current Reporting Requirements
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and twice-deployed combat veteran, introduced Talia’s Law with Rep. Mark Takai (HI-01). In 2005, five-year old Talia Williams was beaten to death by her father who was stationed in Hawaiʻi. Through the legal proceedings against her father, it was revealed that multiple federal employees, including military police and workers at her on-base child care facility, failed to report suspected signs of Talia’s abuse. The bill would close the gap between mandated reporters of child abuse and the military’s Family Advocacy Programs (FAP) reporting on their behalf, by requiring mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse or neglect directly to State Child Protective Services.
“Talia's tragic story is just one of over 29,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in military homes over the last decade. This is a problem that demands better protections for our children in military families who are being abused, and better support for military families facing the stresses of war, multiple deployments, and economic hardship,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said in a speech on the House floor. “I’ve introduced Talia's Law today to require military officials to immediately report suspected cases of abuse to State Child Protective Services. We owe it to our service members, their families, and thousands of children like Talia to disrupt the status quo and stop another decade of preventable child abuse.”
“This change of law is an issue that the Hawaiʻi delegation must lead on,” said Rep. Mark Takai. “Our military keiki should never feel unsafe or neglected. I hope that through Talia's Law we make the necessary changes to protect these military families and their children. There should never be a situation where child abuse can be neglected simply because the information did not make it to the right person."
Background: Currently, the military’s Family Advocacy Programs identify individuals who are mandated to report known or suspected cases of child abuse - generally, professionals that come into contact with children such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and others - to a report point of contact, who conducts an assessment investigation into the reported child abuse. Each of the service branches in every state require the report point of contact to communicate with State Child Protective Services. To close the communications gap that may exist between mandated reporters and those who may report to the State on their behalf, Talia’s Law would:
1) Require mandated reporters within DOD to report directly to State Child Protective Services or the appropriate State agency, in addition to the designated DOD point of contact or chain of command; and
2) Require mandated reporters to receive training in accordance with State guidelines to improve their ability to recognize evidence of child abuse and neglect, and understand mandatory reporting requirements imposed by law.