WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At the same time a murder of a 3-year-old boy in Wichita is being investigated, state lawmakers are working to prevent similar tragedies from happening.
A bill is going through the legislature that would require more from social workers and make adults living inside an abusive home responsible for reporting the crime.
House Bill 2392 has been presented by State Representative Louis Ruiz.
The bill is also known as Adrian’s Law, named after the Wyandotte County 7-year-old boy who was tortured to death by his father and stepmom.
Adrian’s Law orginally would add people who live in a home where a child is being abused to the list of mandated reporters.
But in the last session, legislators decided to take that part out of the bill.
Many fear that it would be difficult to prosecute some adults who live inside the home. Lawmakers said some of those peole may be abuse victims, themselves.
“When those different patterns become part of the norm, it’s hard to differentiate that,” said Rep. Ruiz.
Others said they wanted the language in the bill to be more specific and represent all possible scenarios.
“What one family member may consider as abuse, another family member may not and trying to reintegrate families which is the policy of the state of Kansas if false allegations are made or unfounded allegations are made,” said Rep. John Barker, District 70.
Another amendment to the bill would require social workers or other investigators to physically observe the alleged victim of abuse.
“A lot of times, we found out that DCF would go on both sides of the state line and would never see the children,” said Rep. Ruiz.
Records from the months leading up to Adrian’s death show a social worker never visibly saw the child.
State representatives said social workers would not be able to accept excuses for why a child wasn’t present for observation.
“Don’t take that oh, they’re with the grandma, they’re with so and so, at school,” said Rep. Ruiz. “They would have to go to the school, observe or wait for when the child comes home and set up a specific time to observe the child.”
The same goes for 3-year-old Evan Brewer whose body was found encased in cement in 2017. His mother and her boyfriend are now in prison for the murder.
The Brewer family said Evan’s mother’s boyfriend refused to let DCF see the child a short time before his death.”
“My concerns are for the children,” said Rep. Ruiz. “They are the helpless victims of these situations.”
The amended bill will likely be reviewed again by legislators in Topeka on May 1.
Lawmakers said this is a step in the right direction, will hold more people accountable and could potentially save children’s lives in Kansas.
Rep. Ruiz said he and other lawmakers will continue working to clarify the language in the bill and submit future amendments.
To read Adrian’s Law in its entirety, click here.
To read the amentment to Bill 2392, click here.