The back to school rush is now in full-swing in my home as I’m sure it is in yours as well. It never ceases to surprise me at how quickly this season comes and with how much must be done.
This August I will have two children attending universities here in the state of Ohio and another in high school. Over the next week, my family and I will be collecting last minute school supplies and familiarizing ourselves with the school campuses and talking about how to remain safe walking or taking the bus back and forth from school.
Last year, I met a family whose daughter was hit by an incoming vehicle while walking in a school zone crosswalk. Thankfully, she has recovered from the accident and will, like many other children, be returning to school this month. Through this accident I learned Ohio does not have laws specific to cases like this and often the available punishments do not properly fit the crime making it difficult to charge or prosecute an offender.
As a result, I have introduced Senate Bill 346, which will protect children who are struck by cars in school zones. This legislation places a higher level of accountability on drivers by creating harsher penalties and an additional layer of safety for our children as they walk to and from school.
Additionally, after courts found Ohio’s current child enticement statute unconstitutional, I introduced a bill strengthening our laws to clarify that a potential offender must have unlawful intent for their actions to be considered illegal. Prior to this change, the courts argued the law was too broad to use and treated a person with illicit intent the same as a parent who offers a child’s friend or neighbor a ride home.
With this new law, we can ensure that the courts have the necessary tools to hold criminals accountable and that Ohio’s laws are strong and enforceable against child predators attempting to lure innocent children. Nonetheless, it is important that as parents we take the time to talk to and teach our children to be aware and prepared. I encourage you to visit the National Children’s Advocacy Center to read safety tips for the whole family at: http://www.nationalcac.org/prevention/safety-tips-for-parents.html.
It’s also at this time of the year that I am reminded again of how vitally important our children’s education is, not only to them but also to our families and communities around Ohio and our great nation. As Chairman of the Workforce and Economic Development committee and a member of the Senate Education committee, I will continue working hard to ensure our children are college or career ready by the time they leave home to become hardworking Ohioans. I hope that you and your family enjoy a safe and fun back to school season.