In her role as a medical examiner on the long-running NBC drama “Law & Order SVU,” actress Tamara Tunie’s character often deals with stories involving children who are abused or killed.
On Tuesday, in the Rayburn House Office Building along with various child care advocates, Tunie petitioned members of Congress to hold hearings on child abuse deaths and organize a national campaign to address the issue. Tunie said cast members of “Law & Order SVU,” have become advocates for childrens’ issues thorugh Neal Baer, the show’s executive producer, who worked as a pediatrician before going into television.
“This is an issue that needs to be address nationally and one of the blessings of being a successful actress is that people listen to what you have to say,” Tunie said, at times in tears.
Officials from organizations including the National Children’s Alliance and the Every Child Matters Education Fund cited statistics about child abuse — as many as 2,500 children die each year at the hands of a parent or guardian, they said — but also discussed the case of Banita Jacks case, the Southeast Washington woman who was convicted and sentenced to 120 years in prison for killing her four daughters and living with their decomposed bodies for months.
The advocates met with Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Camp agreed a national investigation into child abuse was needed.
“We need to take some steps to find ways to do things better, “ Camp said. But funding such endeavors may be challenging,” he added. “We need some solutions, but we’re in a time when we can no long spend what they had been spending.”