The important but complicated work of defining child torture continues in the Senate, where a bill that balances medical and legal descriptions is headed to the Family and Veterans' Services Committee. S.189 is widely supported in principle, but similar proposals have stalled in recent years because of the complexity of narrowing clear definitions. The bill aims to balance early identification with protections for victims while ensuring victims are not reunified with family-member perpetrators, as explained in this Associated Press story

The bill defines torture in part as a pattern of assaults, psychological mistreatment or ignoring care that causes severe physical, mental or emotional pain over a period of time. This period of time could be one day, multiple days or longer depending on the specific case. The bill also defined penalties that could include 20 years to life in prison for a parent or guardian convicted of torturing a child.

Family and Veterans' Services Committee meets Wednesday, March 13, 9 a.m. at the Gressette Building, Room 207, with the child torture bill on the agenda .