Press Releases

Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence Hosts First Roundtable of the 117th Congress on Child Abuse During COVID-19

**The Task Force is co-chaired by Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and John Katko (R-NY)**

**Watch the full Task Force roundtable HERE**


Washington, D.C. — Today, the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence held its first roundtable of the 117th Congress. The roundtable, hosted by Task Force co-chairs Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and John Katko (R-NY) focused on child abuse and exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic and steps Congress can take to help protect children and prevent violence as we emerge from this public health crisis.

“For children and victims who have been stuck at home with their abusers in terrifying situations day-in and day-out, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare,” said Rep. Kuster. “Not being able to safely attend school and other activities meant many kids didn’t have the opportunity to tell a trusted adult about what was happening at home. Congress can and must do more to protect our nation’s children. I’m proud to co-chair the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance policies that ensure children are healthy, safe, and free from abuse.”

“There is truly no matter more pressing than the overall safety and security of our children,” said Congressman Joyce. “Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has deprived children across the country of access to environments and services that often provide opportunities to identify abuse and offer protection. I want to thank the witnesses who participated in this important roundtable for their efforts to protect the most vulnerable children in our communities. Today’s discussion will enable Congress to better support victims of child abuse and exploitation during COVID-19 and protect children from these terrible crimes. Every child deserves to live a life free from the threat of physical and sexual violence, and Congress must relentlessly work until that aim becomes a reality.”

“As the Task Force to End Sexual Violence has discussed before, the ongoing pandemic has been extremely challenging for America’s children and families,” said Rep. Katko. “At today’s roundtable, we heard from those working to protect children from sexual violence or exploitation during this crisis and sought to identify what more needs to be done to protect children moving forward. In my district in Central New York, we are grateful to have organizations dedicated to protecting children, including the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center, where advocates have worked tirelessly to maintain services for children during this pandemic. As Congress seeks to develop and implement solutions to combat sexual violence and support survivors, I’ll be working with McMahon Ryan and others to ensure necessary protections and care for our nation’s children and families.”


“Ending child sexual abuse and exploitation is not a partisan issue, but a human issue that all Americans can and should rally behind. From incentivizing states to eliminate woefully outdated statutes of limitations that severely restrict access to justice, to revising Title IX regulations to ensure survivors are free to pursue claims against institutions who shelter their abusers, Congress has a responsibility to work across the aisle and finally enact laws that safeguard our children from predators and the institutions that protect them,” said Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of CHILD USA. “I am honored to be asked to testify before the Task Force, and hope that my testimony and the testimony of my fellow advocates will lead to much-needed action on this issue.”


Participants in today’s Task Force Roundtable included:


Marci Hamilton

Founder and CEO of Child USA


Yasmin Vafa

Executive Director of Rights4Girls


Camille Cooper

Vice President of Public Policy at RAINN


Kiersten Stewart

Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Futures Without Violence


The Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence was founded in April of 2017 by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Joyce (R-OH). The task force exists to advance legislation and policy to support survivors of sexual assault and educate members of Congress as well as the public about how to end this persistent problem.