A number of recent cases involving care givers accused of child abuse points to the need for tougher penalties for adults who abuse the children they are entrusted to protect.
There were two horrifying child abuse deaths in March involving toddler boys, one in Brant and the other in Springville. In both cases, the toddler was beaten to death and the mother’s boyfriend was charged. One of the boyfriends reportedly told authorities that he struck the 1-year-old boy because the baby was crying.
Add to that the recent arrest of a 25-year-old man accused of repeatedly attacking a 4-year-old Buffalo girl for crying too much. The allegations include biting the girl some 20 times all over her body, slamming her into a wall and throwing her down a flight of stairs.
Legislation proposed by Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, R-Buffalo, would increase the penalties for such abuse. His Protect our Children Act plainly deserves to pass the State Legislature, but so far that hasn’t happened.
Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, where the legislation has passed three years in a row, the Assembly has failed to come up with a sponsor.
This shouldn’t be a difficult bill to support, especially since April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The legislation would increase the penalty for child abuse by a “person in a position of trust,” which includes any person who has any duty or responsibility for the health, education, welfare, supervision or care of someone under 14 years of age. The bill increases the punishment for a wide variety of child abuse offenses.
This bill also includes language about concealing such a child abuse death, similar to a stand-alone bill on the subject. That bill, Amanda Lynn’s Law, also was introduced by Grisanti. It would make the improper disposal of a human body a class D felony, up from a misdemeanor. That legislation resulted from the death of Amanda Wienckowski, the 20-year-old Kenmore native whose body was found frozen inside a trash receptacle outside a church at Spring and Clinton streets in Buffalo. At that time, the public discovered that such abuse of a body elicited the slightest, if any, punishment.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, has stepped up to sponsor Amanda Lynn’s Law, but Protect our Children continues to wait for the same consideration. The reasons for the hollow response from the Assembly remain obscure, especially in light of continual cases of child abuse at the hands of adults entrusted with their care.
Adults who injure a child in their care deserve severe penalties. The Protect Our Children Act would be a step toward that end.