COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – A proposed bill in the South Carolina State House would basically let parents off the hook for leaving their children if their “basic needs are met.”
The bill, sponsored by Representatives Vincent Sheehan and Wes Climer, looks to provide exceptions to the definition of “child abuse or neglect,” or “harm.”
“’Child abuse or neglect’ or ‘harm’ does not occur if the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare permits the child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities,” the bill states.
Those activities would include walking, running, bicycling, taking “other independent means of travel to and from school,” staying home alone or staying in a vehicle while unattended.
“What this law is saying is, ‘Look, parents, do what’s in the best interest of your child,’” said Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
According to Richardson, this bill could help police officers.
“It’s something that has always happened, but it’s giving some direction to police. Look, you don’t have to arrest someone if their child is walking to school or walking to the rec department," he said.
Others though are not necessarily on board.
T.J. Smith is the Marketing Fundraiser Coordinator for Veterans 4 Child Rescue. He said he’s worried it could lead to more kids being put in danger.
“If you have a child playing out in your yard and you turn your back for one second to go in the house.. by the time you come back that child could be gone," said Smith.
“There’s numerous dangers out there. What we got to keep in mind is that this law is really written for a state and Saluda County is very different from Myrtle Beach South Carolina,” said Richardson.
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