After my daughter, Breanna Moore, was murdered by her boyfriend on June 26, 2014, several of her friends told me that they had been "aware" that Bree was being abused by her boyfriend. They each said, "I didn't know what to do, and if I had done something, she might be alive today." The education that will be provided by passing The Alaska Safe Children's Act, HB 44, will save lives and futures of our youth by arming them with that knowledge.
After Bree's death, we learned these shocking statistics, of which Bree is now one:
• 81 percent of parents either believe teen-dating violence is not an issue or admit they don't know if it's an issue. (This was our family)
• Alaska is the most dangerous state in America. Alaska has replaced Tennessee as the most dangerous state in the United States in 2015.
• Anchorage and Fairbanks are No. 2 and No. 3 on a Forbes list of the nation's most dangerous cities for women.
• Alaska leads the nation in rapes per capita -- three times the national average.
• Alaska has the nation's highest rate of women murdered by men -- two times the national average. We beat South Carolina in 2014, when Bree was killed.
• Alaska also has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country.
• A UAA Justice Center survey found that almost 59 percent of women in Alaska had experienced physical violence, threats of it, or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lives.
• Sexual abuse of children in Alaska is six times the national average. (783 reported so far in the first quarter of 2015.)
HB 44 is a clean bill that only contains two items; Bree's Law, which teaches teens in grades seven through 12 about healthy relationships, and Erin's Law that teaches children in grades K-12 about personal body safety in an age-appropriate way. The legislators instrumental in pushing this legislation forward are House members Millett, Neuman, Chenault and Tarr and Senators McGuire, Gardner and Micciche.
Overwhelmingly, HB 44 passed the House 34-6, with 17 co-sponsors. Sen. Gary Stevens said, "What parent would not want their child to receive this education, unless they were the ones abusing their child?" The six who voted in the House against protecting our children were Reps. Keller, Hawker, Pruitt, Johnson, Wilson and Saddler. However, the bill will be coming back to the House floor for concurrence, and they'll have a chance to vote yes.
When HB 44 went to the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who, instead of passing it, chose to introduce his own committee substitute version, added three other bills that did not pass in the regular session. His version increased the bill from only two items, Bree's Law and Erin's Law, to a whopping 23 items, some extremely controversial. With those changes the bill will not pass back through the House. Heartbreakingly, Dunleavy single-handedly stopped the ability of this bill to pass, aided and abetted by Sens. Huggins and Giessel, who voted his way.
Any senators who do not look after the rights of our children, educating them to protect themselves from sexual assault, abuse and dating violence, do not deserve to represent us as Alaskans -- especially when the majority of Alaskans support the three-page clean version of The Alaska Safe Children's Act. These senators are not listening to the will of Alaskans. They are ignoring our voices and are doing what they want, in order to further their political agendas and aspirations.
My own senator, Charlie Huggins, whom I helped elect and put up signs for, would not even return a phone call or grant a meeting.
HB 44 is now in the Senate Finance Committee, on the desk of Sen. Anna MacKinnon, committee co-chair. It has not moved forward yet. Why? When Senate President Kevin Meyer and Sen. MacKinnon said the special session may end before it could pass, (leaving Alaska's children uneducated and unprotected indefinitely), I went to Gov. Bill Walker for help. He notified Meyer that day that if HB 44 was not passed in the two-item, three-page form in the current session, the Legislature would be sent back to Juneau for another special session to pass it. Thank you, governor.
Sen. MacKinnon has now made numerous changes to the bill. But there are more changes that should be made. Please contact her and all legislators, demanding they pass "The Alaska Safe Children's Act" now, in the two-item, three-page version that passed the House. Please go to the link to the petition below, where we are collecting signatures to pass HB 44 in its original form. Currently we have more than 1,000 signatures. Thank you for your help and support.
My daughter Bree was well-educated; except for in the one area we now know she needed the most. I just want our kids educated so that what happened to my daughter Bree, doesn't happen to them.
Butch Moore is the father of Breanna Moore, who was killed by her boyfriend on June 26, 2014. To learn more about Breanna Moore, he encourages people to visit her Facebook Memorial Page at www.facebook.com/balloons4bree, and to sign a petition in support of The Alaska Safe Children's Act, go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/alaskasafechildrensbill.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.