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In this episode of Total Michigan, host Cliff DuVernois talks to Erica Hammel McLaughlin, the woman behind Wyatt’s Law, a preventive measure aimed at protecting children from potential harm. After her son Wyatt suffered severe child abuse at the hands of a convicted abuser, she took it upon herself to prevent such tragedies from happening to others. Erica shares her emotional journey of relentless advocacy that led to the introduction and passing of Wyatt’s Law, making part of Michigan’s Central child abuse registry accessible to the public. Listen as Erica shares the challenges she faced, the lessons she learned, and the hope she has for safer future for all children.
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The Story Behind Wyatt’s Law: A Mother’s Fierce Fight for Child Protection in Michigan
In the complex world of legislation, there exists an unwavering persistence mostly found in those pursuing change out of personal experience. Erica Hammel McLaughlin, the woman behind Wyatt’s Law, epitomizes such determination. Embedded in her unique life journey is a riveting tale that inspired Wyatt’s Law, a legislation designed to protect children in Michigan from possible child abuse.
The Catalyst of Change: Wyatt’s Tragedy
Erica Hammel McLaughlin endured one of the worst nightmares a parent can go through. Her son, Wyatt, suffered a massive brain bleed due to non-accidental head trauma, later known as shaken baby syndrome, causing his case to enter the prosecutor’s office as a potential homicide. The woman responsible was Wyatt’s father’s girlfriend, Rachel Edwards, who had previously been charged and convicted of child abuse.
With Wyatt fighting bravely for his life and proving doctors’ predictions of his survival wrong, Erica’s fight had just begun. She felt a fire light inside her, a divine intervention of sorts, and was clear on her mission – she would not let another child or family suffer what Wyatt and she did.
The Birth of a Petition: Creating Wyatt’s Law
Driven by an unwavering spirit, Erica sought to prevent such unimaginable horrors. Though she initially contemplated creating a separate child abuser registry akin to the sex offender registry, she encountered stumbling blocks. The term ‘registry’ sent ripples of controversy, primarily due to certain constitutional issues linked to the sex offender registry.
Adapting her strategy, Erica decided to utilize and modify an existing structure, the Central Registry, transforming it into a powerful tool – Wyatt’s Law. Her novel approach assisted her in gaining the much-needed leverage and momentum in Lansing, Michigan’s capital, despite several obstacles, rejections, and discouragements.
Wyatt’s Law: A Key Tool for Child Protection
Wyatt’s Law finally came to fruition on November 1, 2022, ironically the same date Wyatt was abused, marking a strong symbolism of victory and hope. The law mandates part of the Central Registry to be made public, giving parents and caregivers necessary access to crucial information about potential threats to their children.
The legislation is particularly beneficial to parents stuck in Friend of the Court cases, where they can request access to the Central Registry with the backing of Wyatt’s Law. This information can not only help in strengthening their case but also in safeguarding their children from potential harm.
Wyatt’s Law: A Testament to A Mother’s Love
As Wyatt continues his brave battle, Erica commits herself to raising awareness and sharing their story. She conveys the power of a mother’s love, which knows neither barriers nor limits. The change she championed earned her both admiration and respect.
Through Wyatt’s Law, Erica Hammel McLaughlin proves the immense power a mother’s love holds, firmly declaring that she will not step away until she fulfills her mission of child protection. So reflective is her fight of her words, “Don’t tell me I’m not going to be able to do something because I will. I will do it.”
Wyatt’s Law is a testament to a mother’s unyielding love and her audacious fight against child abuse. It serves as a potent reminder that amidst the strife-provoking landscape of legislation, triumphant victories emerging from personal experiences make the most profound impact.