Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her provisions to help protect military families from intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect passed the Senate with bipartisan support as part of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Our military families have sacrificed so much to protect us, but Congress and the Defense Department haven’t done enough to help protect them from violence and abuse. Last year alone, there were thousands of confirmed incidents of domestic violence and child abuse, including 17 deaths of children,” said Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “Congress has an obligation to address this scourge and help end intimate partner violence and child abuse in the military. I am proud to announce that the FY19 NDAA bill which just passed the Senate includes provisions I introduced to give the Department of Defense the tools it needs to more effectively prevent and respond to child abuse and intimate partner violence and improve the lives of our military families.”
In FY 2017, there were 12,849 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect across the military services, with 6,450 of those incidents meeting criteria for abuse. The Defense Department (DoD) also reported 17 child abuse-related fatalities during the same year. Twelve of the child victims were under five years old, and 65 percent of the child victims were one year old or younger.
Below is a description of Gillibrand’s provisions to protect military families that were passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA bill:
- Bipartisan Military Family PROTECT Act: Improves the military’s response and prevention efforts to stop child abuse and intimate partner violence and would strengthen prosecutions at each military installation or geographic region. The bill would establish multidisciplinary teams (MDT), including social workers, advocates, investigators, prosecutors, forensic interviewers, and medical personnel, at each military installation or geographic region to respond to domestic violence and child abuse cases. The MDT would review cases, respond to these incidents, and work with already existing civilian organizations that work on military cases. This bill also creates a pilot program of universal assessment, triage, and referral services modeled after evidence-based civilian programs.
- Expedited Transfer for Domestic Violence Survivors: Broadens the expedited transfer policy to allow service members who survive domestic violence or family members who are sexually assaulted by someone other than their service member to move quickly away from the offender. Currently, the expedited transfer policy extends only to service members who are sexual assault survivors.
- Prevalence Survey for Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse: There were over 12,000 reported incidents of child abuse and neglect and over 15,000 reported spousal abuse incidents in fiscal year 2017. This provision requires the development and implementation of a survey to get better data on these crimes.
- Training on Traumatic Brain Injury in Intimate Partner Violence: Directs DoD to train first responders, medical personnel, investigators, and prosecutors on the signs and consequences of traumatic brain injury in survivors of intimate partner violence.
- Juvenile Offenses on Military Installations: This provision directs DoD to implement statutory requirements to share jurisdiction over crimes committed by juveniles on bases, including sexual assaults, with state authorities.