New law protects children

Gov. Bob Riley has an opportunity to do something to help protect child victims of abuse from the terrors of going into a courtroom and testifying against adults who have threatened to hurt them again should they ever tell.

The governor can sign a bill drafted by state Attorney General Troy King and sponsored by Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) to allow children in abuse cases to testify by closed-circuit television.

According to Owens House in Columbiana, which provides services and programs to serve child victims of abuse and their families, there were 403 cases of child abuse or neglect reported to the Department of Human Resources in Shelby County during 2005.

The bill now lying on the governor’s desk received approval just minutes before the close of the legislative session.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of abused children who have been terrorized and tortured by people who threaten to do harm to them should they ever reveal what has happened to them.

The new law would allow such children to testify by closed-circuit television from a separate, secure location rather than having to sit in the same room facing the defendant. Curently such testimony would be taken in a judges chambers, still subjecting the child to possible intimidation by the defendant.

We feel such a new law will make it easier for children to report what has happened to them and to bring those who have inflicted unspeakable harm upon them to justice without having to face further fear and intimidation.

We encourage Gov. Riley to please sign this legislation for the children