WASHINGTON — The House prepared to vote on legislation Tuesday that would require service members, Defense contractors and civilian employees to report cases of suspected child abuse on military installations to child protective service agencies — in addition to reporting up the chain-of-command.
Named Talia’s Law, the bill honors five-year-old Talia Williams who was tortured and beaten to death by her father — an active-duty Army specialist at the time — and step-mother in 2005 at Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa, Hawaii.
Hawaiian Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai, both Democrats, introduced the bill last November. Gabbard spoke about the need to better protect children like Talia, as well as to improve support systems for military families.
“We owe it to our service members, their families, and thousands of children like Talia to disrupt the status quo and stop another decade of preventable child abuse,” she said in a speech introducing the bill.
Rates of child abuse and neglect in the military, though half the rate typically seen in the civilian population, have been on the rise since 2010, according to a 2014 memorandum from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Rosemary Williams.