Brittany DuChaussee, Deputy Director of the Special Prosecutions Division
My name is Brittany DuChaussee and I am the Deputy Director of the Special Prosecutions Division at the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. I have specialized for five years in prosecuting crimes against children including physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, and child exploitation. Working with child survivors of abuse has taught me a lot of lessons about strength, resiliency, how to listen, and what we can do as a community to end child abuse. It is key to provide girls with the tools to build confidence, communication, healthy relationships and the ability to navigate challenges. Instilling these skills can help both prevent child abuse and allow for children to disclose abuse when it does occur. In addition to empowering the child, a present and engaged community is necessary for a child to disclose abuse. Children need a person to tell that they trust about the abuse, a person who will believe them, and a person who will do something. Therefore, in addition to raising up girls to be strong, it is even more important to provide them with a community who will support them and reach out to girls who need resources the most including lower-income families, reservations, and other isolated schools.
Advocating for children has never been more important than now. Statewide closures of elementary and secondary schools due COVID-19 has separated students from critical educational and health resources. As the impact of COVID-19 unfolds, pandemic-related trauma and economic instability will disproportionately impact children in poverty, who most heavily rely on school-based services for nutritional, physical, and mental health needs. Ensuring children have access to the opportunities they need to thrive ensures their protection and benefits the community as they grow up to be healthy, strong, and happy.