REIDSVILLE, N.C. -- Now in effect as of the beginning of this month, Kilah's Law seeks to curb instances of child abuse by more than doubling the maximum punishment for perpetrators convicted of the most serious child abuse crimes.
Kilah's Law increases the penalty from 15 years in prison to 33 years. It also specifies that the presiding judge and clerk of court put the instance of child abuse on the perpetrator's record judgment and the perpetrator's conviction, so as to ensure anyone--employers--inquiring about the individual will learn of the crime.
According to the latest Kids Count data's substantiated reports, collected by Action for Children North Carolina, 11,300 children were reported abused or neglected in 2010--down almost half from 20,340 in 2006. He said the law could further lower these numbers and prevent some child abuse crimes from even happening.
Page said, "This type of law right here and the enhancement should help as a deterrent in that factor. So, again, getting the information out that we in North Carolina and our legislature and our law enforcement...take it very serious--child abuse."
In recent years, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office has set up a special victims unit for people who have suffered from child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. This unit works in conjunction with Help, Incorporated, a relief agency in the county. Page said for him, cracking down on child abuse is something important, not only professionally but also personally.
"As a former criminal investigator, before I was Sheriff, and as a father, it does affect you when you see children that have been victimized and when you see families that have been victimized. So, it affects a lot of people and also the investigators. But we want to do our part that when we do identify these cases that we can do everything we can do to help this victim," Page said.
He further explained, "The victim comes first and helping that child and helping that family and then going after that abuser and making sure that person gets everything that's coming toward him...this law helps with the enhancement of those penalties."
Kilah's Law is named after Kilah Davenport, a Union County girl who was severely abused by her stepfather last spring when she was three years old. She suffered head injuries that required doctors to remove part of her skull. Her story was the driving force behind why both the North Carolina House and Senate unanimously passed the bill with bi-partisan support during this past legislative session.
WFMY News 2