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Proposed Michigan law would create child abuser registry

Parents and some lawmakers in Michigan are teaming up to take a stand against child abuse. The state is considering legislation to create a statewide child abuse online registry.

This is the second time in two years that state lawmakers have introduced bills to create a database. The first was back in October 2015, but it never advanced.

The series of bills would be called “Wyatt’s Law” after a Michigan boy suffered severe brain injuries at the hands of his father’s girlfriend. Wyatt’s mother fought to keep him away from the girlfriend, but she had no idea the girlfriend had prior child abuse convictions. As a result, the young boy has permanent developmental disabilities.

The system, maintained by Michigan State Police, would be similar to a sex offender registry and would be accessible to the public. If offenders fail to register, they would be arrested.

Under the legislation, offenders on the list would have their name, age, photo, address and summary of the conviction or convictions posted.

Lawmakers who are opposed argue although the bills have good intentions, some families prefer to work through abuse situations on their own because the abuser might be a parent. Labeling them could prevent that person from seeking help.

Indiana already has a registry in place under “Kirk’s Law.” Former Governor Mike Pence signed the bill last year after babysitter Jackie Rolston was sentenced to prison for battery resulting in 19-month old Kirk Coleman’s death.

The Michigan Senate Committee did not vote on “Wyatt’s Law” at their last meeting, but it could at a later date.

It has also been proposed in the state house, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled. 

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