Two days ago, it was hard to imagine the Casey Anthony verdict being good news for America's kids. Anthony can't be tried in the death of daughter Caylee ever again. The not guilty verdict is set in stone, and sentencing this morning means Casey will spend a maximum of four years in prison for lying to police. But the anger swirling around America right now can turn Caylee's death into something positive.
Angry people vote. And one of the millions of pissed off Americans had found a way to harness the anger at Anthony skating on charges of murder, manslaughter, and child abuse. Michelle Crowder of Durant, Oklahoma is calling for Caylee's Law, a piece of legislation that would make it a felony for a parent to fail to report a missing child to law enforcement. And people are listening. Important people.
The fastest growing petition ever on Change.org, the Caylee's Law suggestion has garnered more than 250,000 signers in less than 36 hours. But more importantly it's starting to get backing from actual legislators who can put it in action. New York Assemblywoman Grace Meng. Representatives in Oklahoma and Florida. They're acting on the anger.
Because, like most of America, the one issue that really struck in my craw was Casey's failure to report her child missing for a full month. If my 6-year-old is out of my sight in a mall for more than a minute, I have palpitations and want to call out the National Guard. That a mother wouldn't call the cops when her 2-year-old was missing for more than an hour is unfathomable, and it's that despair that made me click on the petition, that makes me want to call my legislator to get on board.
Some will see Caylee's Law as pointless. Casey Anthony can't be tried again. Double jeopardy rules protect her from child abuse charges, and even if Caylee's Law is enacted, it would stand to reason that she's grandfathered. We can't simply make laws to catch people we're angry with.
This won't help Caylee directly. But it will help America's kids.
It will help the quarter of gay teens who are kicked out of their homes by their parents simply for admitting they love someone of the same gender, kids whose parents leave them to rot on the sidewalks. As it stands, parents CAN kick their kids out, and with rules that don't require they report them missing, abdicating their duties to love and protect their children isn't a felony.
It will help kids like Austin Eugene Bryant and Edward Dylan Bryant, boys who went missing 10 and 8 years ago respectively, whose parents never reported their disappearance. NEVER. In a decade. My first response when I heard that story back in March was "charge those parents with child abuse, now," but the cops were only charging them with taking adoption subsidies dishonestly.
Caylee's Law, or whatever you call it, would help us make sense of how a system will punish a parent with child abuse charges for leaving children unattended for a long period of time (and rightly so!) but let a parent skate for not reporting a child missing. It can't be one but not the other, America. That's why we need a law.
Caylee Anthony is gone. Her mother walks free. But people are still looking for some way to bring the little girl justice. Here it is, a way to turn her tragedy into something positive.
Do you see a need for Caylee's Law? Will this help with your anger over the verdict?
Image via Caylee's Law