Legislators want law punishing parents who fail to promptly report their missing children

Monday, July 11, 2011 at 12:50pm

Public anger over Casey Anthony’s acquittal in the killing of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee has spurred Tennessee legislators to join lawmakers around the country in calling for making it a crime for parents to fail to report a child missing within 24 hours.

Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, announced Monday that they are filing a bill to make it a punishable crime when parents or guardians fail to timely notify authorities when a child under their care is missing. They joined Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, in calling for the new law.

“As Tennessee lawmakers, we cannot do anything to change the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida, but we can and should strengthen our laws here in Tennessee,” Stewart said. “If a child is missing, the authorities should be notified immediately, not one day or 30 days later.”

Under Fitzhugh and Stewart’s bill, failure to notify authorities would constitute a misdemeanor. In situations in which bodily injury or death of the child resulted, the crime would be elevated to a felony.

Last week’s verdict in the Anthony trial in Orlando, Fla., sparked a national movement with more than 1 million people signing petitions to create what’s become known as Caylee’s Law. Anthony didn’t report her daughter missing for a month.

8 Comments on this post:

By: Thetaxgod on 7/11/11 at 11:30

There is a more disturbing problem that has evolved in past years. Legislators who think that their job is to respond to every single headline. So you want to pass a law to mandate parental compliance for notification? How often does this happen? And what is the penalty for not notifying? It will be meager. A law for this is not necessary. This is just more headline grabbing by politicians who have no idea how to legislate or manage. Its a waste of regulation and more, an unnessary overreaction. You cannot solve every possible imperfect action with a law, without eroding the whole idea of how the law is suppose benefit society in large, not restrict our freedoms. Laws, laws and more laws.

Politicians no longer represent the people.

By: revo-lou on 7/11/11 at 11:37

"You cannot solve every possible imperfect action with a law, without eroding the whole idea of how the law is suppose benefit society in large, not restrict our freedoms"

Yes, of course, you should be free to do to your children what ever you wish. In fact, you should be able to do to anyone what ever you wish.

By: bfra on 7/11/11 at 12:14

I signed the petition for Caylee's Law, however, doesn't this come under "child neglect" and why isn't that Mother being charged with that?.

By: revo-lou on 7/11/11 at 12:56

{however, doesn't this come under "child neglect" and why isn't that Mother being charged with that?.}

She was charged and "acquitted" of aggravated child abuse.

By: localboy on 7/11/11 at 2:00

Good points, Thetaxgod.
As bfra points out, wouldn't this subject matter already be covered under existing statutes?

By: bfra on 7/11/11 at 2:10

revo - I thought she was charged with murder. Maybe I was wrong.

By: not_guilty on 7/11/11 at 4:33

Tennessee law presently requires the reporting to authorities of a dead body.

I wonder. Could the proposed law, in light of the constitutional prohibition against compelled self-incrimination, be applied to a parent who unlawfully killed his/her child and then failed to report that criminal conduct to police?

By: budlight on 7/12/11 at 5:29

We already have laws on the books to protect children; they just need to be enforced.

Casey Anthony was not convicted by a jury of her peers (our peers) because they did not have enough evidence to convict her. Now if she were Perry March, she'd be in jail. Perry March's father convicted him with his testimony for sure. There was no one in this case who was known to be connected.

A lot of speculation has occurred. Now Casey Anthony will probably spend the rest of her life on the run from angry citizens. It's a sad case all the way around. Her child is dead and her life is over. Her family is shattered. Sad!