Austin, TX – March 4, 2019, Texas became the fifth state to introduce the Safe Child Act into the legislation. Sponsored by TX Representative Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D-Garland), H.B. 3121, the Texas Safe Child Act, joins the state of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Utah and Hawaii where the Safe Child Act has been introduced.
Texas’ Safe Child Act contributes to an interesting conversation at the Capitol. Texas legislators were faced two years ago with revamping the states CPS program after District Court Judge Jake ruled the state’s CPS operated in violation of constitutional rights and demanded an overhaul.
The discussion of revamping CPS opened an avenue for trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) training and more safeguards regarding domestic violence. Separate from the Safe Child Act several bills this legislative cycle tackle expansion of domestic violence safeguards, as well as trauma and ACE training for law enforcement, CPS, judges, teachers and others; and is introduced by a myriad of legislators, both Republican and Democratic,in both the House and the Senate.
The Safe Child Act is different from the ACE and Trauma training bills. The Safe Child Act. HB 3121, resolves a few major hurdles preventing family courts in Texas from protecting the health and safety of the children they are there to protect. Texas leads the nation in in the number of filicides, when parents murder their children, that are connected to family court. Research shows the courts had a chance to try to prevent the tragedy by not allowing the batterer access to the children. As a result, many provisions of Safe Child Act ensure children’s safety and health are paramount before any other decisions in the adjudication process:
H.B. 3121 also requires that once a finding of family violence is valid that the Court must protect the child from further trauma:
However, these finding cannot be supported by untrained professionals or pseudoscience:
With more than 58,000 children a year ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States, this provision is especially important to guard against higher ACE scores and a life full of trauma.
Finally, it seems Texas is ready to move forward and help place children’s health and safety first.
To support, volunteer to help pass or learn more about the H.B. 3121, the Texas Safe Child Act contact at [email protected] or follow us on social media: Twitter: @AbuseStopperTX Facebook: fb.me/TexasStopAbuseCampaign