Stop Abuse Campaign Success in Hawaii: First State to Introduce Safe Child Act
News Release from Stop Abuse Campaign
NEW YORK, Feb. 1, 2016 – The Stop Abuse Campaign announced today that Hawaii’s introduction of the Safe Child Act is a victory for the campaign (www.stopabusecampaign.org). Hawaii became the first state to consider the Safe Child Act when Vice Speaker John Mizuno recently introduced the bill into the Hawaii House of Representatives.
“This is a victory for children and everyone fighting to end abuse in all its forms,” said Stop Abuse Campaign CEO Andrew Willis. “The Safe Child Act is an evidence-based proposal designed to improve the response of custody courts to domestic violence cases.”
According to Stop Abuse Campaign Board of Directors Chair Jill Gilbert Callahan, “The law would require that courts make the health and safety of children the first priority in all custody and visitation decisions. That is what the Stop Abuse Campaign fights for every day, protecting children through preventing trauma,” added Callahan.
“The Safe Child Act was created by our Research Director, Barry Goldstein based on substantial research that exposed a pattern of outdated and discredited practices that continue to lead courts to place children in jeopardy,” explained Willis. “It will give children exposed to adverse childhood experiences a chance to heal and avoid the lifelong health consequences otherwise faced by children exposed to domestic violence and child abuse.”
The legislation mandates that courts integrate current scientific research, use a multi-disciplinary approach, and improve practices to prevent children from being forced to live with abusers.
Domestic violence author of The Quincy Solution Goldstein states that, "People are surprised at how frequently courts place children in jeopardy. Every year 58,000 children are sent for custody or visitation with dangerous abusers. In fact, adds Goldstein, “175 children were murdered in a recent two-year period by fathers involved in contested custody, often after the court gave them the access they needed to kill their children. The response to child sexual abuse is even worse, with 85 percent of alleged offenders winning custody."
The Safe Child Act is based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Research from the Centers for Disease Control. “The research demonstrates that domestic violence and child abuse are far more harmful to children than previously understood,” states Melanie Blow, Stop Abuse Campaign chief operating officer. “Another study from the US Department of Justice, the Saunders study, found inadequate domestic violence training frequently leads court professionals to deny or minimize true reports of abuse.
The Stop Abuse Campaign works to promote legislation and social change designed to save children from exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). “Our organization promotes the Safe Child Act because the outdated and discredited practices still in use cause judges to disbelieve true abuse reports, force children to live with abusers and often take safe parents out of children's lives,” notes Willis. "We have found the courts have been slow to integrate important research like ACE and Saunders into their standard practices resulting in continuing to place children in danger.”
“The Safe Child Act will protect children by requiring the courts to use the latest research and look to experts who know how to recognize domestic violence and child abuse," says Callahan. “The ACE Research provides an exciting opportunity to improve the nation's health. The present level of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, crime, suicide and substance abuse is based on our long tolerance of domestic violence and child abuse.”
According to Willis, Family Courts can help reduce the health and social problems caused by abuse through requiring abusers to stop their domestic violence in order to have a relationship with the children. “The present practice of pressuring victims and their children to accommodate abusers only fuels more abuse,” emphasizes Willis.
Goldstein interviewed doctors working with the ACE research for his book about the Quincy Solution. He asked the question that should be uppermost in the minds of court professionals. Is there anything we can do to save children after they have been exposed to ACEs? "The answer is probably yes, but the safe parent must have control over medical decisions and the children must be protected from further abuse that would interfere with their healing. This is the protection the Safe Child Act will help the courts provide to vulnerable children," explained Barry Goldstein.
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The Stop Abuse Campaign
The Stop Abuse Campaign is dedicated to the prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) through public education and public policy. The Campaign supports evidence-based practices that accomplish this and thereby spares the next generation from needless suffering.
The ACE study, found at http://stopabusecampaign.com/f-a-q/faq-the-ace-study/, proves that all child abuse and maltreatment is a matter of life and death.
We strongly support primary prevention and, when this fails, we support early intervention policies with an emphasis on ensuring safety, healing and stability for victims. http://stopabusecampaign.org
LINK: Hawaii- Pass the Safe Child Act
HB1701: Text, Status (Deferred Feb 2 by HUS)