Parents reporting missing children

When the decision in Casey Anthony’s trial was handed down, parents and child advocates across the country were devastated. Americans were appalled to learn she couldn’t be criminally charged for failing to report her daughter Caylee as missing, even though she had been gone for 31 days.

Every child is precious. That’s why I am working to help prevent a tragedy similar to what occurred in Florida from happening here in Michigan.

I have requested legislation to require that law enforcement officials be notified within 24 hours of a child going missing. My proposed law would make it a felony to not report a child under the age of 13 as missing if they have been gone for more than 24 hours.

I am shocked and saddened by the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial. Not simply because of the verdict, but because it brings to light that there are no safeguards in place to ensure a little missing child has to be reported to law enforcement.

We must ensure that a travesty like what happened to little Caylee doesn’t happen here. It is unthinkable that a person, especially a parent, could go as long as they want without reporting a missing child with virtually no consequences. That’s just plain wrong.

My measure is modeled after the federal proposal titled “Caylee’s Law.” Lawmakers in more than 30 other states are working on similar legislation to help protect children and punish individuals who would cause them harm.

As a parent and grandparent, how anyone could fail to report a missing child is beyond me. I look forward to taking this vital measure up in committee, and seeing it approved by both chambers of the Legislature and signed into law.

Sen. Rick Jones is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and vice chair of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. He represents the 24th state Senate District, which includes Allegan, Barry and Eaton counties.