Legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives today would provide greater safeguards for children in potentially abusive situations.
House Bill 2300, by state Rep. Pam Peterson, would allow Oklahoma courts to consider additional information and deny requests for family reunification in cases where a child’s parent has been convicted of sexual child abuse.
“Obviously, children should not be forced to live in a home with a registered sex offender,” said Peterson, R-Tulsa. “Frankly, I was shocked that this was not already law.”
House Bill 2300 allows courts to consider whether a parent has been found to have “committed sexual abuse against the child” or a sibling when deciding if reunification of the family should be pursued.
In the same situation, the bill also allows the courts to consider if one parent has been required to register as a sex offender under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This will make Oklahoma law comply with the federal Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
“To force a child to live in a home with a sex offender does nothing but dramatically increase the likelihood that the child will be terribly abused,” Peterson said.
House Bill 2300 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 77-0 vote today. It now proceeds to the state Senate.