Protesters advocate for child abuser registry - WNEM TV 5

Protesters advocate for child abuser registry

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Leannah Jenkins, a Flint native, is a survivor of child abuse.

“I'm not afraid to talk about what happened to me. I'm a survivor now, no longer a victim,” Jenkins said.

She came to Lansing on Thursday to rally for child abuse prevention, a cause that is close to her heart.

“I was young, and my mother abused me. Physically and emotionally and allowed gentlemen to do the same thing, and it wasn't until I met my foster family that I realized true love was out there,” Jenkins said.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month.

Jenkins joined people from advocacy groups from across the state at the Capitol lawn to speak out for those, who they say, can't always speak for themselves.

“It is on us to fight for our children,” Gilbert said.

Actress and child abuse advocate Melissa Gilbert spoke to the crowd, calling for a change in laws.

“It means passing and strengthening laws to help parents identify child abusers,” Gilbert said. “It means giving parents the resources to make informed decisions about who their children interact with.”

Many were in support of Wyatt's Laws, which are a series of bills to create a public registry for child abusers, much like the sex offender registry.

Erica Hammel is Wyatt's mother, the child the bills are named after.

“At 1-year-old my son was shaken, almost to death, by my ex-husband's girlfriend,” Hammel said.

Hammel said she wishes she knew the woman had a history of abuse, before letting Wyatt be around her.

“If we can't keep these people behind bars, the least we can do is let people know. We have a right to know,” Hammel said.

Jenkins said it's encouraging to know there's more attention, and possible change coming for survivors and their abusers.

“There's no words to describe it than it's very emotional and it's very heartwarming to know there's people out there to stand next to you and survive with you,” Jenkins said.

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