Tenney Works To Strengthen Child Protection Laws

A Legislative Column from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)
August 15, 2011
Due to the troubling circumstances of Caylee Anthonyís death and the long response time in reporting her disappearance, there has been a public call for more rigorous repercussions for those who fail to act in a timely manner when the life of a child is at stake.

According to statistics provided by the New York State Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse (MECC), 20,309 children were reported missing in our state in 2010, 19,026 cases of which involved runaways. Of the 196 reported abductions, 188 were familial abductions, six children were abducted by an acquaintance and two cases reported in 2010 involved a child abducted by a stranger.

In all of these cases, the most important factor in finding and recovering lost or abducted children is the timely reporting of their disappearance by a parent, guardian or caregiver. Regardless of the circumstances, the longer time lapses after the initial disappearance, the lower the chances are that the child will be found.

While our current state law considers the failure of reporting a missing or deceased child by a parent or legal guardian as a misdemeanor offense, there is growing consensus that stricter laws are needed. Thatís why I am proud to sponsor new legislation which creates felony charges for failing to report a missing child within 72 hours (Assembly bill 8539) or a deceased child within 24 hours (Assembly bill 8541). By creating harsher penalties for failing to report a missing or deceased child, I hope we will help to ensure cases like Caylee Anthonyís do not occur here in New York State.