Caylee’s Law: genuine or a cry for attention?
Published: Sunday, July 17, 2011
Updated: Sunday, July 17, 2011 17:07
Grace Meng, a Democrat assemblywoman in Flushing, N.Y., is the first to propose Caylee's Law in the wake of the highly publicized Casey Anthony trial. The mother of two young sons claims she would notify authorities "within minutes" if her own children went missing. At least three other states are working on legislation, including Florida.
The law would make it a felony instead of a misdemeanor if a parent, guardian or caregiver fails to report a child missing within 48 hours. It also makes it a felony not to report the location of a child's corpse to police within two hours of death, according to the Miami Herald. The first 48 hours are vitally important in missing children cases, according to the Metropolitan Police Department's Missing Persons Guide. Had Anthony reported her daughter missing after two days rather than 31, it is likely her trial would have turned out drastically different.
I'm sure many lawmakers want to piggyback on this legislation to build their résumés and get better acquainted with their voters. Simply because Meng has children automatically makes her relevant to the Anthony case and this proposed legislation, in order to make her some sort of spokeswoman for Caylee. This legislation shouldn't be about more publicity for this case or the people involved in its aftermath; live coverage for all 42 days was enough. The additional 899 news reports of the trial trumped Mitt Romney's 764 and Michele Bachmann's 609 reports, according to a study of Lexis-Nexis transcripts from CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NPR. Yes, Casey Anthony's trial got more air time than the Republican presidential candidates.
This legislation isn't about justice for Caylee; it isn't about vengeance against Casey. It should be about the 800,000 kids that go missing in the United States every year, and the many that go unreported to the police.
If done correctly, and not as a publicity stunt for those who want to cash in at the expense of Caylee, this law could be as effective as Code Adam and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which requires sex offenders to report their whereabouts regularly and register to a national sex offender database.
Code Adam refers to helping lost children in department stores. The code and law were created in the wake of six-year-old Adam Walsh's death, who was abducted from a Florida mall and murdered. Caylee's Law would apply to any child under the age of 12, but teens should not be forgotten in this bill. Rather than 48 hours, failure to report a teen after three or four days should also be a felony. With half a million runaway teens in the U.S., according to connectwithkids.com, the extended time is logical and reporting a missing person under 18 should not be negated completely.
With more than a million virtual signatures on this bill on change.org and 19,000 people joining the Caylee's Law Facebook group, public support is there for this law and should not be taken advantage of. This case has stirred up emotion in the community because they see two-year-old Caylee in every little brother, sister, niece, nephew or cousin in their family. As much as the community wants to know what happened to Caylee, there may never be an answer. But with its support, this bill will ensure that justice can be served for many other kids who are abducted and unfortunately killed — ones who never make the news.