Senator Richard Burr's Opening Statement at HELP Subcommittee Hearing - Breaking the Silence on Child Abuse

In case you missed it, be sure to watch Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) deliver this statement regarding the importance of ensuring that children are free from abuse and neglect.

Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/sTGVAf


"Chairwoman Mikulski, I want to thank you for your passion for children. Clearly that comes across not only in your opening statement, but also in your actions in Congress. Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our nation's children. No child should ever have to suffer the pain or shame of abuse at the hands of an adult be that a parent, a teacher, a coach, or a stranger met in a park or on the Internet.

"I also want to thank all of the witnesses for their time and dedication to our shared goal of ensuring that children are free from abuse and neglect. And in those horrific instances when a child is abused, I thank today's witnesses for their commitment to ensuring that we intervene quickly and more importantly that we provide those children with the support and treatment they need to heal and recover.

"Over the years, Senator Mikulski and I have worked very closely together on legislation that would require criminal background checks for individuals working in child care or volunteering with vulnerable populations - kids, the disabled, and the elderly. When parents leave their children with an adult in an entrusted organization—day care, school, sports activity, afterschool care, summer camp--they shouldn't have to worry that they might be dropping their child off to be cared for by someone who has been convicted of a violent crime, especially a crime against children.

"The use of criminal background checks for keeping criminals and violent offenders away for children, however, is but one important piece for keeping our children safe. A criminal background check will only weed out the offenders known to the criminal justice system or another government agency such as child protective services. Today, we will be hearing a lot about the offenders known to children, and often known to or suspected by adults within a community, who remain unknown to the judicial authorities due to the silence of their victims and the silence of adult bystanders.

"To truly ensure our children are safe, both children and adults must break the silence of abuse. However, since children who are being abused live a life of fear and shame and are thus least able and likely to come forward, it is adults with whom the greatest responsibility for breaking the silence of abuse rests. As one of our witnesses said in her testimony for today, 'child…abuse is a grown-up problem.'

"Although crimes against children through such means as sex trafficking or the Internet often tend to gain the greatest airtime on cable news, I think it's important for us to remember that most instances of abuse against kids, sexual or physical, are occurring not across state lines or on the Internet but in our own neighborhoods and communities and by folks we know. Since the vast majority of abuse is occurring so close to home, it is critical that we train and empower adults to know the signs of abuse and to know what to do when they see it or suspect it.

"There is no quick fix. There is no single piece of legislation that will make the problem of child abuse magically go away. However, the adults returning to a collective sense of responsibility for all the children of their community can from the grassroots level begin to break the silence for the benefit of all kids.

"I look forward to working with you Chairman Mikulski and all of our Senate colleagues to better understand and respond to the issues of child abuse in this nation today. We often hear that the children are our nation's future. How we as adults treat and how we respond to the ill treatment of our nation's children will determine what that future looks like. I thank my colleagues, and I thank the Chair."