Child Neglect

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Georgia state officials are making it clear child abuse, intentional and accidental, will not be tolerated. The state's first "Reckless Child Endangerment" bill was passed in the Georgia Senate Friday morning.

Cruelty to children and child molestation are already against the law in Georgia.

State officials here have been working for three years to make Georgia state number 50 to pass a bill prohibiting "accidental" child abuse.

Margi Redker describes her grandson mason as the light of her life, and strives to give him the kind of life many kids can only dream of having.

"There's so many children out there whose parents are doing or selling drugs and the parents are getting their children back. It's not fair to the children!" explains Redker.

Friday morning, situations like those are soon becoming against the law in Georgia in the form of a new bill passed by the Senate.

Laws already exist in Georgia to prevent intentional child abuse. This bill would go into effect to punish those whose reckless behavior harms children.

"Would be an adult producing drugs in front of a child, a child left in the car on a July day when it's one-hundred degrees,” says Chief ADA Jim Hardy.

"If a mother is being a victim of domestic violence as are the children, and she chooses to stay with her spouse, then she's subject to penalties under law,” explains James Harper, President, CEO of the Vashti Center.

Georgia is currently the only state in the United States not to have a reckless endangerment law in effect. Child protection officials say it's about time to change that.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. Senator John tells us Friday afternoon he's confident it will be passed. If this becomes a law, offenders could expect the penalties to be a felony crime, carrying a prison sentence of one to 20 years.