'Caylee’s Law' Sounds Like a Good Idea—but It Isn't

Proposed bill could increase pressure on grieving parents
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2011 12:14 PM CDT
A screen capture of the page to digitally sign the petition for 'Caylee's Law'   (Change.org)

(Newser) – About half a million people have signed an online petition clamoring for "Caylee’s Law," and legislators in at least five states are working on similarly themed bills. But like much of the legislation that arises after horrible crimes, Caylee's Law isn't as good an idea as it seems, writes Maia Szalavitz for Time. It would require parents to report the death of their child within an hour, or a missing child within 24 hours, or face felony charges. Szalavitz pokes holes in the idea: "Imagine that a child has just drowned—the scenario put forth by Anthony's defense—after attempts at resuscitation," she writes.

"Wouldn't that small chore" of notifying police "be forgotten, even by the most conscientious of parents, as they come to grips with the harrowing fact that efforts to revive their child have failed?" And when it comes to older kids, are parents supposed to alert police if a teen misses curfew, which could result in an avalanche of new, and unnecessary, missing persons reports? What about children who die in hospitals? Or in a natural disaster? Writes Szalavitz, "It's easy to see how the main result here would be more paperwork, bureaucracy, and possibly even jail time for people already facing the worst form of grief.”

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