Today’s Interim Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on offering protective orders to additional victims represents an important step forward in ensuring Kentucky children are in a safe environment as they grow and develop. Currently, Kentucky statute only allows protective orders for those who have been married, lived with, or had a child with the offender. This leaves many people, including many teens, without one of the most effective forms of protection from being exposed to or experiencing violence – protective orders. Children of victims who experience dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are also left unprotected from being exposed to violence, which is a known trauma that impacts children’s healthy development. These exclusions place teens at risk of harm and the children of abused parents at risk of exposure to violence.

All children and youth deserve to feel and be safe from violence; this practical, effective solution can ensure that happens. We applaud Judiciary Co-Chairs Representative Tilley and Senator Westerfield for supporting this important issue today, and we look forward to these protections becoming a reality during the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly.