By DAN ORTIZ
March 03, 2015
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - The caging, restraining or secluding of children should be prosecutable under Alaskan law.
Sadly, recent events have demonstrated that Alaska’s Child in Need of Aid law and criminal penalty laws do not address those types of child abuse if there is no physical harm or threat of physical harm.
As soon as I learned of the case in Ketchikan, I drafted a bill that will protect children in similar situations. My bill, HB 129, will allow social workers, troopers, police and other authorities to immediately remove a child from a home if a caregiver has caged, secluded or restrained a child, actively encouraged these activities, or was aware of these activities committed by another caregiver and failed to make a reasonable effort to free the child. It will also provide criminal penalties to those who abuse a child in this way, so abusers can be prosecuted.
HB 129 also gives the first mention of ‘mental abuse’ in the history of Alaskan statutes, so children who experience these terrible situations can still be protected even if there is no evidence of physical harm. It is important to protect our children, both from physical and mental abuse.
Dan Ortiz writes A View From the House column weekly.
Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District. He is the only independent in the Alaska State Legislature.