Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: November 14, 2011
Sen. Harry Coates
Legislator plans legislation to better protect children
from sexual predators
Each year, hundreds of children in Oklahoma are the victims of
sexual abuse and many more suffer in silence. Sen. Harry
Coates wants to help better protect the state's youngest citizens
by strengthening punishments against those who witness sexual abuse
of a minor but do not report it.
"Sexual abuse traumatizes children and can cause social and
emotional problems throughout adulthood. We must do all we can to
protect them. Unfortunately, recent events have shown that people
don’t always do the right thing. I think strengthening the
penalties for those who witness such crimes will help encourage
more people to come forward and report such incidents," said
Coates, R-Seminole. "I know there are a number of reasons why
someone might not come forward - typically it's fear of the abuser,
but I'm hoping this new law will give people the incentive and courage
to step forward with the truth and do the right thing when it comes
to protecting our youth."
Currently, citizens are required to report suspected child abuse
to the Department of Human Services.
The proposed legislation will require anyone that actually observes
a sexual act between an adult and a minor to report it directly
to local, county or state law enforcement. Not reporting such acts
would become a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
"Being that these are such serious crimes, I think it's important
that individuals report them directly to law enforcement rather
than DHS," said Coates. "Reporting straight to city, county
or state law officials will ensure that the perpetrator is properly
investigated and punished if need be. We have to get more serious
about finding and bringing child abusers to justice."
For more information, contact:
Sen. Coates: (405) 521-5547