State Task Forces to Address Child Sexual Abuse
State Task Forces have been organized in twenty-one (21) states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen (17) states passed legislation authorizing their establishment; five of the Task Forces were established without legislation, as in Massachusetts (2002), Maryland and New Jersey (2011) and New York (2012) where statewide “Partnerships” were organized under the Enough Abuse Campaign; more recently D.C. in 2019 organized a District-wide task force without legislation to address child sexual abuse in schools.
Seventeen (17) states had passed legislation directing the formation of a task force, commission, or study group to examine the issue of child sexual abuse and to produce a report with recommendations on how to prevent and respond to it. Some simply direct these groups to develop specific prevention education tools for use in schools.
Time frames in which task forces must produce these reports or prevention tools range from six months to two years. The reports vary widely in their length and comprehensiveness. For example, the Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts reports are over 150 pages each; Vermont’s is 128 pages, Nevada – 55, North Carolina – 33, Alabama – 16, and Illinois – 6.
There is much variability in the focus and scope of the various state task forces. Some issue broad-sweeping recommendations that address ways to prevent first time perpetration of child sexual abuse (primary prevention); ways to recognize, respond to, and report cases of child sexual abuse (secondary prevention); and how to ensure counseling and treatment for child victims (tertiary prevention).
In nine states, (Vermont, Texa, Illinoise, Michigan, Arkansas, Alaska, Alabama, New Hampshire, and West Virginia), recommendations have resulted in subsequent passage of specific laws to address sexual abuse. In other states, recommedations have been issued “encouraging” actions, however, no legislation has been filed to mandate their implementation. In a few states bills supported by the Task Fore were introuced but failed to pass. Still in some states, such as Massachusetts, the filing of comprehensive legislation preceeded the Task Force’s report.
Seventeen (17) of the eighteen (18) task forces have released a report. Mississippi has not issued a report since 2013, and none is currently forthcoming.
Links to Task Force reports that have been issued are included below in the description under each of the seventeen states.
State Task Forces Map
◼︎ No current legislation mandating the formation of a State Task Force
◼︎ Successfully passed legislation mandating the formation of a State Task Force
Whether you identify as a victim, survivor, or as someone working through the trauma of sexual abuse, know that you are not alone, you are not to blame for what happened, and support is available to help you on your journey to healing.
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