Buffalo legislator is sponsor of bill that would help honor April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month
State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-I-60, has urged his colleagues in the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly to pass the Protect Our Children Act, which would protect children from cruel and repeated maltreatment.
The bill, which is sponsored by Grisanti, passed the Senate last year, but did not pass the Assembly. Grisanti said he believes passage would help to honor the designation of the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"This legislation will help to protect our children from anyone who is put in a position of trust to care for them and instead commits the ultimate violation and in some way abuses them," Grisanti said. "If approved, this bill would increase the severity of punishment for anyone who would cause harm to a child."
Known as S-1721, the legislation identifies a "person in a position of trust" to mean any person who is charged with any duty or responsibility for the health, education, welfare, supervision or care of another person, either independently or through another person under 14 years of age, no matter how brief a time period it may be."
The offenses of aggravated murder of a child, aggravated abuse of a child in the third degree, aggravated abuse of a child in the second degree, aggravated abuse of a child in the first degree, aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated endangering the welfare of a child, and concealment of death would all be punishable, and a harsher punishment would be imposed for the murder of a person under 14 years of age while in the course of committing certain sex offenses.
April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. Since then, April has been designated as a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse. According to statistics obtained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 675,000 children were victims of child abuse last year, with more than 1,500 children dying during that same time period as a result of abuse or neglect.
"The majority of reported child abuse cases have been shown to come from situations and conditions that can be prevented when community programs are engaged and involved and provide support to those who need it," Grisanti said. "A community that cares about parental support, early childhood development and maternal mental health issues can help foster nurturing families and healthy children. For those who do commit abuse, we must have laws on the books that punish them for this inconceivable and reckless behavior."