Keeping Michigan children safe

It is an unfortunate reality, but thousands of Michigan children face the horrors of abuse each year. It is estimated that more than 1,500 children throughout the United States die annually from child abuse and neglect. Each April, on the state and national level, we increase our efforts to raise awareness and help put a stop to this horrible crime.

Child Abuse Prevention Month has been recognized in April each year since it was affirmed by a presidential proclamation in 1983. Many communities throughout the state hold ceremonies and plant blue pinwheels, which are the national symbol for child abuse prevention.

The Michigan Children’s Trust Fund is once again hosting their annual Michigan Prevention Awareness Day at the state Capitol. The ceremony brings attention to the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse in all forms. Prevention Awareness Day also serves as a legislative education day by giving advocates the opportunity to discuss prevention needs with state legislators. Events include a procession, planting of a pinwheel garden on the lawn of the state Capitol and a lineup of notable speakers. This year’s event is scheduled for April 19 at 11 a.m. on the Capitol steps.

Michigan Senate Republicans are also taking action to prevent these troubling statistics in our state. State Sens. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, and Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, have introduced legislation that would address the issue of child abuse in daycares — specifically instances that result in the death of a child.

Under current Michigan law, any violation of the Child Care Licensing Act is a misdemeanor that can cost a child care facility their license for at least two years.

Senate Bills 746 and 747 were introduced as the result of the tragic death of a three-month-old child in a West Michigan daycare. The daycare was shut down by the state after an investigation found numerous violations at the facility.

This legislation would specify that, if a violation of the Act resulted in the death of a child, the person would be guilty of second degree child abuse, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The facility’s child care license or registration would also be permanently revoked.

Senate Republicans encourage state residents to wear blue, plant pinwheels, and get involved in their community to help put an end to child abuse in Michigan.

If you suspect a child is being abused or seriously neglected, Michigan has a toll-free child abuse hotline that can be reached at 1-855-444-3911.