Senate passes legislation to prevent crimes against children

The Senate approved bipartisan legislation on Friday that was introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to help law enforcement officials investigate child crimes and to support the child victims.

Blunt and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA). The measure would increase funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers, which help child victims of violent crimes and provide law enforcers and prosecutors with tools to bring perpetrators to justice.

“(Missouri) has 22 Children’s Advocacy Centers that serve 7,000 of our state’s most vulnerable children each year by coordinating the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases,” Blunt, the co-chairman of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, said. “I urge my House colleagues to act so we can continue providing safe haven for child abuse victims and help law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable.”

Children’s Advocacy Centers employ professionals who conduct forensic interviews of child victims of abuse that are intended to be admissible in court rather than forcing a child to repeat the story more than once.

The VOCAA reauthorization bill would allocate $20 million a year to Children’s Advocacy Centers, a $1 million increase over current levels.

“We have a responsibility to protect our children from violence and abuse,” Coons said. “Though we can’t prevent every tragedy, we can make sure that children and families have the resources they need to heal and obtain justice. Children’s Advocacy Centers bring all of these resources together under one roof for one mission: to deliver justice for children. Demand for these services has only grown since the Victims of Child Abuse Act was enacted more than two decades ago. Children’s Advocacy Centers served close to 300,000 children last year and 1,000 communities still have no access to a center when a child is the victim of a serious crime.”