Mom’s Quest For Nation’s First Child Abuse Registry Will Make You Question Why We Don’t Already Have One

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scales-justice-lawMost parents are terrified of the possibility that their child could be abused while in another’s care, but it’s impossible to know everything about every person with whom kids come into contact. One Michigan mom faced every parent’s worst nightmare head on, and now she’s working to prevent it from happening to other families. 

Detroit Free Press reports that Erica Hammel is petitioning the state of Michigan to create a publicly accessible child abuse registry after her son, Wyatt, was allegedly shaken and severely injured by his father’s girlfriend, Rachel Edwards. Wyatt, who was only a year old at the time, suffered a fractured skull and a major brain bleed. He survived the attack, but he temporarily lost his eyesight, had to have a shunt permanently inserted to drain fluid from his brain, suffered severe developmental delays, and now walks with braces on his legs.

Hammel decided to petition for the creation of a child abuse registry after finding out Edwards, who plead no contest to the charges in Wyatt’s case, had two prior abuse convictions at the time of Wyatt’s assault.

The proposed registry would be searchable by name, similar to the state’s sex offender registry. Specific details of the proposed child abuse registry have yet to be determined. But such a registry would give people another way to check whether someone has been convicted of child abuse, be it a new neighbor, a babysitter, someone who is dating an ex-spouse or someone who is marrying into the family.

Hammel says she’d tried to find information about Edwards before allowing Wyatt to spend time at his father’s house, but her searches of both the sex offender registry and the state prison website turned up nothing. She feels a registry of child abusers could protect hundreds of kids every year and several Michigan legislators agree with her.

“It just seems like there’s a real gap in our system. Parents can’t find the information to protect their child from someone convicted of child abuse,” said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, adding that such information could be brought forward to a court for custody provisions.

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