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Proposed New Law Named in Honor of Caylee Anthony

The Oklahoma State Senate approved a new law on Thursday, March 15. If approved by the state House and Governor Fallin, Caylee's Law will create formal legal punishments for parents or guardians who fail to report a missing child within 48 hours. Senate Bill 1721 also provides stiff consequences for parents or guardians who knowingly lie to police officers about the disappearance of children.

Senator Ralph Shortey authored the proposed new law and says it was inspired by the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony in Florida. In that case, the mother of missing Caylee Anthony was eventually convicted of lying to police concerning the whereabouts of her daughter. Senator Shortey said he hopes "that this legislation can prevent similar tragedies from occurring in Oklahoma, and bring those who would harm children to justice."

The exact extent of the penalties for violating the proposed law is not yet set in stone. However, failing to report a missing child within the statutory timeline will result in a felony charge. Also potentially up for debate is when the 48 hour period begins: Does it start to run when a parent first notices that their child is missing or are parents charged with knowing at all times? If parents are deemed to always know where their kids are, then the time period could potentially relate back, resulting in a tighter window to report the missing child.

Laws to protect our children are very important. However, it is also imperative to explore the eventual ramifications of proposed legislation. We need to protect our kids while still allowing responsible parents the Constitutional freedom to raise their children according to their own beliefs.

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