I shudder every time I read a news report about a teacher who has sexually assaulted a student. Most people think of schools as safe havens for our youth rather than places that children can become victims of sexual crimes.
While I think it's nice that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has introduced a bill that would require teachers to get multiple background checks, I also question the senator's intentions. I question them because he has consistently voted against other bills that would protect our youth from violent sex offenders.
In addition, I'm concerned that Toomey is making this a partisan issue. Toomey went out of his way to point out that his bill has one Democratic co-sponsor. That's different than having a cohort of Democratic co-sponsors.
And if he was truly concerned about addressing this issue, why has he voted against bipartisan funding bills that include money for programs that protect children? The programs that Toomey voted against include Defending Childhood, a program that distributes grants that address childhood exposure to abuse, and the National Sex Offender Public website, which stores information about sex offenders' locations across the country.
Toomey also voted against programs that help missing and exploited children along with funding support for law enforcement officers to tackle these types of investigations. He failed to co-sponsor the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act that calls for strict reporting standards for child abuse, such as requiring adults in certain leadership roles to report known or suspected abuse directly to law-enforcement officials rather than their bosses.
The senator voted against continuing the National Sex Offender Registry, which manages the requirement that sex predators update their whereabouts every three months for the rest of their lives.
In addition to voting against bills that protect children from sexual abuse, Toomey has voted against bills that protect our youth from other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and prescription drug addictions.
Specifically, he has voted against grants that provide assistance to children who have been victims of domestic violence.
And when it comes to the prescription drug epidemic, Toomey did not support a bill that would require doctors to use a database when filling out prescription drugs for patients. He also failed to co-sponsor a bill that mandates prescribers to adhere to training and requires opioid treatment clinics to follow strict requirements. He instead supports a bill that does not impose any requirements on doctors or pharmacies.
Equally discouraging is Toomey voted three times against funding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including trials for a new non-addictive pain drug that would replace addictive opioids.
In closing, I believe an all-inclusive approach is needed to combat all forms of child abuse and that means funding is necessary. Toomey needs to support bills that protect our children all the time — not just when it's convenient for him.
— Roger Lund is chairman of the Adams County Democratic Committee.